A new study connects a lack of sleep to increased obesity and diabetes by showing how sleep deprivation can hurt people on a cellular level. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week involved a very small sample size, but the subjects were placed on strict diets and limited to just four and a half hours of sleep a night. After just four nights, the researchers found that their fat cells had developed a decreased sensitivity to insulin, which regulates blood sugar and metabolism. If that insulin resistance persists, it can lead to weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. Another recent study showed a similar insulin resistance in teenagers who don't sleep enough.
The article goes on to say that, though the sample size is quite small, the study's lead author says that "this is the equivalent of aging someone 10 to 20 years" in four nights.
While I'm skeptical of how true this can be, and of the diet that the subjects were restricted to which I haven't yet found details about, this is a bit eye-opening for someone who has a tendency to swing around 6 hours of sleep.
Guess I'll just have to bring the ol' airplane pillow into the office tomorrow.