Sleep deprivation, high-fat diet effect insulin resistance

Sleep deprivation, high-fat diet and its effect on insulin resistanceSleep deprivation, along with a high-fat diet, effects insulin resistance. The latest research found that, when it comes to contributing to insulin resistance, one night of sleep deprivation is equivalent to six months of eating a high-fat diet.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body loses its sensitivity to insulin and starts producing more in order to maintain healthy blood sugar. Over time insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is associated with a slew of health complications. Aside from insulin resistance, obesity is also a factor that can lead to developing diabetes.


Dr. Josiane Broussard, Ph.D., who conducted the study, said, “Research has shown that sleep deficiency and a high-fat diet both lead to impaired insulin sensitivity, but it was previously unknown which leads to more severe insulin resistance. Our study suggests that one night of total sleep deprivation may be as detrimental to insulin sensitivity as six months on a high-fat diet. This research demonstrates the importance of adequate sleep in maintaining blood sugar levels and reducing risk for metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes.”

The research was conducted on eight dogs. Insulin sensitivity was measured prior to and post diet-induced obesity. Prior to the change in diet, researchers used an IV glucose tolerance test to measure insulin sensitivity in dogs with one night of disturbed sleep. The dogs were then fed a high-fat diet for the following six months.

Insulin sensitivity after one night of disrupted sleep was 33 percent. Insulin sensitivity after six months of consuming a high-fat diet was 21 percent. The researchers found that once insulin sensitivity became impaired by diet, sleep deprivation no longer had an effect on it.

Dr. Broussard explained, “One night of sleep deprivation and six months of a high-fat diet both reduced insulin sensitivity by a similar degree in canines; however, there was no additive effect of sleep loss and high-fat diet. This may suggest a similar mechanism by which both insufficient sleep and a high-fat diet induce insulin resistance. It could also mean that after high-fat feeding, insulin sensitivity cannot be reduced further by sleep loss.”

Disrupted sleep can also contribute to other negative health effects and make a person prone to overeating, which increases the risk of metabolic syndromes.

Dr. Caroline M. Apovian, a spokesperson for the Obesity Society, added, “It is critical for health practitioners to emphasize the importance of sleep to their patients. Many patients understand the importance of a balanced diet, but they might not have a clear idea of how critical sleep is to maintaining equilibrium in the body.”

Previous study links sleep deprivation and insulin resistance

Previous study links sleep deprivation and insulin resistancePrevious research has linked sleep deprivation with insulin resistance. The study was conducted by researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where they found that sleep deprivation contributes to a change in body fat tissue, making it act like the fat found in obese or diabetic individuals, and leads to insulin resistance.

Dr. Broussard was also the study lead for this study. She said, “For long term health, you have to protect your sleep. This study, while small, offers an important clue about the function of sleep and why sleep deprivation leaves us more vulnerable to type 2 diabetes.”

For this study Dr. Broussard followed healthy adults through four days of 4.5 hours in bed and four days of 8.5 hours in bed. Sleep did not affect the individual’s diet nor physical activity. After each cycle, a sample of tissue was taken from each participant to analyze.

The fat tissue samples taken from the four nights of 4.5 hours of sleep resembled that of a diabetic or obese person and not a healthy individual. These participants were 30 percent more likely to be sensitive to insulin.

Dr. Broussard concluded, “This eye-opening study helps cement the link between sleep and diabetes, and also suggests that adequate sleep, like diet and exercise, is one of the healthy habits we can adopt to prevent or treat diabetes.”

Ways to know if you are insulin resistant

Ways to know if you are insulin resistantYour doctor can help you determine if you are insulin resistant or not. With blood work they can see if you have a high fasting insulin level, which is an indicator of insulin resistance. There is also a daily test option where you are given glucose and your levels are measured hours later to see how your body responded to it.

Being overweight or obese are other indicators and risk factors for developing insulin resistance.

Lastly, a skin condition known as acanthosis nigricans may develop, which is another sign of insulin resistance.

Diet plan for insulin resistance

Diet can play a large role in insulin resistance. Not only can diet contribute to an unhealthy weight, which increases the risk of insulin resistance, but it can also be used to prevent diabetes and reverse insulin resistance. Here are the foods you need to eat to help control insulin resistance.

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • DairyDiet plan for insulin resistance
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Fish
  • Lean meats
  • Poultry

Tips to prevent insulin resistance

Prevention of insulin resistance is possible if you follow these tips:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Educate yourself on risk factors.
  • Know your family history.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.