Sleeping is our body’s way of recuperating. When our quality of sleep is compromised, so are several of our body functions. According to a study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, lack of quality sleep may eventually lead to obesity and diabetes. This could mean anything from not getting enough hours of sleep to having abnormal sleeping patterns.

For almost six weeks, researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School placed 21 healthy participants in a controlled environment where everything was monitored--from their waking and sleeping hours to the kind of food they ate. At first, they slept for around 10 hours a night, which is optimal. For the next three weeks, they were then given only 5.6 hours for slumber per 24-hour cycle. Sleep happened at all times of day and night, simulating the sleeping pattern of people who work rotating shifts. The study was then capped off with participants getting nine nights of regular sleep.

After the experiment, researchers realized that a prolonged lack of sleep and a confused internal body clock decreased the participants’ metabolic resting rate. It sounds inconsequential, but the study authors say that this could mean the participants are in danger of gaining an additional 10 pounds per year if they continue to observe these types of sleeping patterns. In these circumstances, they increase their risk of developing diabetes because glucose concentration in the blood increases after eating.

For people who are working at odd hours (for example, those who work for BPOs and multinational companies), settling into a proper sleeping pattern may be a challenge. If you're one of these and you can't control when you sleep, at least try to get in more hours every night.  

(Photo by Tiago S Costa via Flickr Creative Commons)

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