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  • Lack of sleep may cause weight gain, glucose intolerance, diabetes, memory problems, and aging

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Monday, July 19, 2010 9:38 am Email this article
    Lack of sleep may increase appetite, impair glucose tolerance, increase the risk for diabetes, cause memory problems, and accelerate the aging process according to a paper from Belgium. STRESS HORMONES

    Lack of sleep increases stress hormones

    “In particular, sleep restriction is accompanied by increased cortisol levels [stress hormone levels] in the afternoon and early evening and a shorter quiescent period [a shorter time when cortisol levels are low] compared to extended sleep periods,” the paper notes.



    Lack of sleep may cause memory problems and speed aging

    “Those alterations could facilitate… disturbances that are associated with glucocorticoid excess, such as memory deficits, and are similar to those observed in aging,” they paper continues.

    “Thus, chronic sleep loss could contribute to acceleration of the aging process.”



    Lack of sleep can cause impaired glucose tolerance, increase risk of diabetes

    “Sleep restriction is also associated with an impairment of carbohydrate tolerance, similar to that observed in individuals with clinically significant impaired glucose tolerance,” the paper also notes.

    “Thus, chronic sleep deprivation may increase the risk for diabetes.”



    Lack of sleep decreases leptin and increases grehlin

    “Partial sleep deprivation was found to be associated with a decrease in plasma levels of leptin [a hormone released by fat cells which reduces appetite and increases metabolism] and a concomitant increase in plasma levels of ghrelin [a hormone which increases appetite]; subjective ratings of hunger and appetite also increased,” the authors continue.

    Decreasing leptin and increases grehlin increases appetite

    The also found “a remarkable correlation… between the increase in hunger and the increase in the ghrelin:leptin ratio.”



    Lack of sleep may increase the risk of obesity

    “Sleep restriction may favor the development of obesity,” the paper concludes.



    I beleive lack of sleep is one reason for the rise in obesity

    I believe that lack of sleep is one of the reasons for the rise in obesity rates in the past twenty-five years.



    The book Lights Out dicusses sleep deprivation and obesity

    A book called Lights Out : Sleep, Sugar, and Survival by T. S. Wiley and Bent Formby does an excellent job discussing this topic.



    Light from television, computers and room lights tricks our brain into telling us to eat

    They talk about how artificial lighting—street lights, room lights, and lights from television and computers—cause us to stay up later than normal all year round which evolution has not prepared us for.

    They point out that for millions of years, we have adjusted our sleep according to the seasons. During the long days of summer, we have always engaged in more activity and slept less. But when the shorter days of winter come, we are less active and sleep more.

    They suggest that long days of summer and fall tell our brains that it is time to eat up and get fat for the coming winter.

    However, with artifical lighting, our brains believe that we are in a state of perputual summer, constantly eating and trying to get fat for the winter that never comes.

    Small amounts of light affect sleep quality

    They also discuss how just a small amount of light can disturb your sleep.



    Lack of sleep may increase the risk of cancer

    Also quite fascinating, they stated that plenty of sleep reduces the risk of cancer.

    They stated that often times, rats given chemicals known to cause cancer, will not get cancer provided that they get plenty of sleep. Therefore, researchers “leave the lights on” in order to disturb the rats sleep when testing chemicals to make it easier for the rats to get cancer.



    It takes me 3 hours to get to sleep after getting off the computer

    After reading this book three or four years ago, I realized that it takes me three hours to get to sleep after getting off the computer. I had never realized this before. I knew there were times when I could not get to sleep until two or three in the morning, but I did not realize why.

    I now blacken out my bedroom at night

    After reading this book, I also had a skylight removed in my bedroom, because I would wake up at 5:30 AM because of the light shining in.

    After reading this book, I also now completely blacken out my bedroom at night when I sleep, blackening out both the window and the door which helps me to sleep better. Doing so made me realized how lighted most rooms are at night.



    WARNING: I hated the writing style of this book

    A word of warning: I was fascinated with the ideas in this book, but I hated the writing style.

    The sentences are too long, and contain too many qualifying statements

    It seems like every sentence is too long—books on writing suggest following a long sentence with a short sentence to give the reader a rest—and contains one or more qualifying statements. To be techincal accurate, every sentence that we write should have qualifying statements, but it makes for extremely boring reading. I would often get the end of a sentence and have to re-read it because by the time I got to the end, I had forgotten what the sentence was about. No kidding.



    Here is an exaggerated example of the writing style

    Here is an exaggerated example of what I mean: “The blue house across the street, which used to be owned by the local mailman, who had a beautiful blonde wife, who used to walk their three dogs every afternoon, and was caught having an affair with a neighbor who own a nightclub, is no longer there.”

    By the time I got to the end of the sentence and—“is no longer there.”—I couldn’t remember what they were talking about. What is no longer there? The nightclub? The neighbor? The mailman? The wife? The dogs? I had to re-read the sentence to realize they were saying the blue house across the street.

    It took me about 50 pages to get beyond the writing style

    It took me about 50 pages before I was able to get beyond the writing style and concentrate on the ideas being presented.

    However, some people, perhaps most people, may find the writing style unbearable.

    I loaned the book to two smart friends, both of whom are voracious readers of scientific material, and neither of them finished the book.

    So be warned.


    Copinschi G. Metabolic and endocrine effects of sleep deprivation. Essent Psychopharmacol. 2005, 6(6):341-47.


    Laboratory of Physiology, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.

    Articles on the same subject can be found here:


    On Feb 09, 2006 at 1:59 am Clabbergirl wrote:

    . . . . .

    Interesting. I do think sleep affects more than we previously realized. They say more sleep can help a person get over a plateau in weight loss, but it's hard to swallow when logic tells you burning more calories awake is what will do it. But it sure is nice to see there is one more reason for me to sleep in late. smile

    On Feb 09, 2006 at 3:30 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .


    Sleep in late or, better yet although it is hard to do, go to bed early.

    Turn off the lights early. Turn off the computer early. And turn off the TV early.

    "Early to bed, early to rise..."

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