Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sleep and the Body

While we are quietly sleeping, the body is actively working. An upset in sleep could have dire consequences. Lately, the the Proceedings of the National academy of Sciences, has published a study by some researches in the University of Chicago, that lack of good sleep maybe a causation of metabolic syndrome. They detailed that frequent sleep awakenings, may lead to insulin resisitance, dyslipidemia (lipid metabolic upsets), diabetes and hypertension.

This is certainly in line with medical thinking that lack of sleep (too short, or too poor quality), may be a stress on the body, something we classify broadly as "oxidative stress", which over time, will trigger severe cardiovascular changes, the most important of which is hypertension and diabetes. We have known for a long time, that sleep apnea, is associated with hypertension and cardiovascular disease. In the Chicago study, the researchers studied the sleep pattern of 9 volunteers (two nights of regular sleep and three nights of interrupted sleep). They measured certain relevant metabolic parameters and found that interrupted sleep, even after three nights, can proceed significant glucose intolerance. These findings are certainly important, as we wrestle with the problem of diabetes and hypertension prevention.

The researchers also documented weight gain, which I must say is difficult, after such a short study. I would also like to add our own observation, that late meals can contribute to obesity and also diabetes and hypertension. Eating less than 4 hours before bedtime, can give rise to obesity (the common saying living like a pig, eat then sleep), as grandmother tales tell us. Maybe, the extra glucose load, before bedtime, can also induce insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. I suppose, the overall message is clear. Nothing beats a good rest at night, to help us stay healthy.

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