Naima Covassin, Ph.D., a cardiovascular medicine researcher at Mayo Clinic, recently published the results of a randomized controlled crossover study.
When compared to control sleep, it demonstrates that not getting enough sleep resulted in a 9% increase in overall abdominal fat area and an 11% increase in abdominal visceral fat.
Twelve healthy people who were not classed as obese took part in the study, each of whom spent two 21-day stints in an inpatient environment. After a three-month washout period, the participants were randomly allocated to the control (normal sleep) or restricted sleep groups for one session and the opposite during the following session. Throughout the trial, each group had access to meals. Energy consumption and expenditure, body weight, structure, fat distribution, and circulating appetite biomarkers were all monitored by the researchers.
Fat that should be deposited beneath the skin appears to reroute to the more harmful visceral compartment as a result of insufficient sleep. During the first four days, known as the acclimatization period, all subjects were allowed nine hours of sleep. After that, the restricted sleep group was granted four hours of sleep per week for the next two weeks, whereas the control group was allowed nine hours. Both groups then had three days and nights of rehabilitation, including nine hours in bed.
In comparison to the acclimation stage, the subjects consumed 300 more calories per day due to a lack of sleep, ingesting roughly 13% more protein and 17% more fat.
The increase in consumption peaked during the first several days of sleep deprivation and subsequently dropped off over the recovery phase to baseline levels. Throughout, the amount of energy expended remained rather constant.
People who cannot readily avoid sleep disruption, such as shift workers, should explore behavioral therapies such as increased exercise and healthier eating choices, according to Dr. Somers.
More research is needed to see how these findings in healthy young individuals relate to people who are at higher risk, such as those who are obese or have metabolic syndrome or diabetes.