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Body rebels against even one sleepless night

May 6, 2010 | 10:32 am

Everyone feels crummy trying to function after a sleepless night. Physiologically, the body is protesting too. A new study has found that the loss of one night's sleep can trigger insulin resistance, which provides more evidence that healthy sleep patterns are vital to good heart health.

Fullmoon Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it properly to respond to glucose in the blood. This increases the risk of conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Previous studies have shown that a regular pattern of insufficient sleep increases insulin resistance. But this is the first study to show a single night of lost sleep can trigger insulin abnormalities. Researchers in the Netherlands reached this conclusion after examining nine people -- once after a normal night's sleep and once after a four-hour sleep at night -- and measuring their insulin sensitivity.

"Our data indicated that insulin sensitivity is not fixed in healthy subjects, but depends on the duration of sleep in the preceding night," the lead author of the study, Dr. Esther Donga, of the Leiden University Medical Center, said in a news release.

Studies are needed to see if improving sleep duration can help stabilize glucose levels in people with diabetes.

The study will be published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Dmitry Lovetsky  /  Associated Press