How sleep loss may contribute to adverse weight gain?

In a new study, researchers at the University of Uppsala prove that one night's sleep loss has a tissue-specific effect on the regulation of gene expression and metabolism in humans. This explains why night shift work and chronic sleep loss impair our metabolism and lead to adverse weight gain. The study was published in the scientific journal Science Advances.

Epidemiological studies show that the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes is increased in those who suffer from chronic sleep loss or who work night shifts. Other studies have shown a link between sleep disturbance and adverse weight gain, whereby fat accumulation increases simultaneously with a decrease in muscle mass - a combination that in itself is associated with many adverse health effects.

In the new study, researchers examined 15 healthy, normal-weight individuals who participated in two laboratory sessions in which activity levels and nutrition were standardized. On a random basis, participants had a normal night of sleep (over eight hours) during one session and were kept awake throughout the other session. In the morning after each session, small tissue samples (biopsies) were taken from the subcutaneous fat and the skeletal muscle of the participants.

"In the present study we observed molecular signatures of increased inflammation across tissues in response to sleep loss. However, we also saw specific molecular signatures that indicate that the adipose tissue is attempting to increase its capacity to store fat following sleep loss, whereas we instead observed signs indicating concomitant breakdown of skeletal muscle proteins in the skeletal muscle, in what's also known as catabolism. We also noted changes in skeletal muscle levels of proteins involved handling blood glucose and this could help explain why the participants' glucose sensitivity was impaired following sleep loss. Taken together, these observations may provide at least partial mechanistic insight as to why chronic sleep loss and shift work can increase the risk of adverse weight gain as well as the risk of type 2 diabetes," says Jonathan Cedernaes.

The researchers have studied only the effect of one night's sleep loss and therefore do not know how other forms of sleep disturbance would affect participants' tissue metabolism.

"It will be interesting to investigate to what extent one or more nights of recovery sleep can normalize the metabolic changes that we observe at the tissue level as a result of sleep loss. Diet and exercise are factors that can also alter DNA methylation, and these factors can thus possibly be used to counteract adverse metabolic effects of sleep loss," says Jonathan Cedernaes.

My Body Creator strictly adheres to the admissible sleep intervals when preparing individual nutrition and workout programs. This is one of the many mandatory factors that the software takes into account when creating the daily and the weekly schedules in order to establish optimal conditions for achieving the desired goal.


Jonathan Cedernaes, Milena Schönke, Jakub Orzechowski Westholm, Jia Mi, Alexander Chibalin, Sarah Voisin, Megan Osler, Heike Vogel, Katarina Hörnaeus, Suzanne L. Dickson, Sara Bergström Lind, Jonas Bergquist, Helgi B Schiöth, Juleen R. Zierath, Christian Benedict. Acute sleep loss results in tissue-specific alterations in genome-wide DNA methylation state and metabolic fuel utilization in humans. Science Advances, 2018; 4 (8): eaar8590 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar8590