What Does Losing Sleep Mean for Metabolism?

Sleep Loss Increased Fatty Acids, May Boost Diabetes Risk
Sleep Loss Increased Fatty Acids, May Boost Diabetes Risk
For every 30 minutes of lost weekday sleep, the risk of obesity and insulin resistance increased substantially.

SAN DIEGO — Losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep on the weekdays may have a long-term impact on body weight and metabolism, results of a study presented at ENDO 2015 suggest.

“Sleep loss is widespread in our modern society, but only in the last decade have we realized its metabolic consequences,” Shahrad Taheri, MBBS, PhD, of the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Doha, said in a press release.

The disruption of weeknight sleep debt may lead to long-term metabolic disruption, which may promote the onset or worsen the progression of type 2 diabetes, according to Dr. Taheri.

To assess potential associations between baseline weekday sleep debt and obesity, as determined by BMI and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), the investigators followed 522 patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes enrolled in the Early Activity in Diabetes Trial.

The study participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: usual care, physical activity intervention, or diet and physical activity intervention. The patients completed 7 day sleep diaries and calculated their weekly sleep loss.

At baseline, compared with patients who reported no sleep debt, those who had weekday sleep debt were 72% more likely to be obese (odds ratio [OR]=1.72; 95% CI, 1.03-2.88).

At 6 months, losing weekday sleep was significantly associated with obesity (OR=1.80; 95% CI, 1.05-3.08) and insulin resistance (OR=2.04; 95% CI, 1.31-4.11). At 12 months, the researchers found a further increase in the associations between losing weekday sleep and obesity (OR=1.83; 95% CI, 1.01-3.29) and insulin resistance (OR=2.96; 95% CI, 1.31-6.67).

Also at 12 months, for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep lost at baseline, the risk for obesity increased 17% and insulin resistance increased 39%.

“Our findings suggest that avoiding sleep debt could have positive benefits for waistlines and metabolism,” said Taheri.

“Consistent optimum sleep hygiene/education may be a key component for driving successful future trials in metabolic disease control.”


  1. Taheri S eta l. Abstract LBT-112. Presented at: The Endocrine Society’s 97th Annual Meeting & Expo (ENDO 2015); March 5-8, 2015; San Diego.