Our brain isn’t the only major part of our body that needs sleep in order to function properly. A study featured on ScienceDaily.com has recently shown that a commonly ignored but very vital element also requires rest--the fat cell.
The word “fat” may have brought about images of excess inches and endless gym sessions, but although these cells are commonly thought of with frustration, they actually have a very important purpose.
Dr. Matthew Brady, associate professor of medicine and vice-chair of the Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition at the University of Chicago, explains, "Body fat, also known as adipose tissue, stores and releases energy. In storage mode, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from the circulation where they can damage other tissues. When fat cells cannot respond effectively to insulin, these lipids leach out into the circulation, leading to serious complications."
In order to see the effects of sleep deprivation on the sensitivity of fat cells towards insulin, a team of researchers from the University of Chicago worked with six healthy men and one woman who were exposed to two conditions. The first condition required them to sleep for 8.5 hours for four consecutive days. The second, which they did four weeks later, required them to sleep for only 4.5 hours for four consecutive days. Researchers found that those who were deprived of sleep had the insulin sensitivity of their fat cells drop 30 percent. while their total-body insulin response dropped 16 percent.
These findings are somewhat alarming, especially since many people now find that sleeping for an average of five hours is enough to get them through the day. The study proves that not only can sleep-deprived fatty acids go haywire and cause weight increase, they may also contribute to diabetes.
Give sleep the same value as you would give good diet and exercise. Not only will enough shut-eye provide you with energy to face the following day, it will also keep your body chemistry in check.
(Photo by Francisco Junior via Flickr Creative Commons)