A sleepless night stirs up insulin resistance in the healthy

sugar molecules playing when you're not sleepingBeing insulin resistant is the beginning of health headaches.  Because insulin : 

But no one really knows why insulin resistance happens. Diet is certainly implicated, but research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, suggests a rough night or two , might be all that it takes to get the ball rolling.

Sleep is in short supply

The advent of the electric light and the frenetic pace of the modern world, mean that the average person living in the western world is sleep deprived.

In some it is a wilful act of defiance, in others it is the unintended consequence of a failure to shut down sufficiently or a failed shut down due to sleep apnea etc.

Officially, we need 6-8 hours a night. Most of us err towards the 6 hour side of the sleep stat, when physiologically speaking, we should be leaning towards the 8 hour mark.

Insulin resistance on the rise

At a population level, the incidence of insulin resistance has risen, as sleep time has declined.

Researchers from Leiden University Medical Centre in The Netherlands wondered whether the same pattern would hold in individuals.

The level of insulin resistance was monitored in nine healthy people using a technique known as the hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp. The technique is not exactly “natural”, but it does give an indication of how sensitive the person is to insulin.

In the technique, a fixed amount of insulin is pumped into the participant. This will cause a drop in blood sugar levels, the extent of the drop is related to how well the cells are responding to the insulin. The size of the drop is measured by recording how much glucose must be given to keep their glucose levels stable.

A short night bumps up insulin resistance

The brave volunteers in this study were tested in the morning following

  • A normal night (approx 8 hours)
  • A very short night (only 4 hours)

The one short night, was enough to alter insulin sensitivity. Cells in a body that are short changed on sleep, are a lot less responsive to insulin.

It just took one night

How many nights do you end up short changed ?


  • you’re pushing the envelope to get everything done before you climb into bed or
  • you’re so wired from the events of the day, that you just can’t turn off or
  • the baby is crying, the partner is snoring or the neighbour’s car alarm is howling

Sleep is not a nice to have its a necessity

Getting enough sleep does more than just ensure you’re a fairly nice person to be around and don’t look too bad, it powers your metabolism.

Make getting your EIGHT HOURS a priority.

A Single Night of Partial Sleep Deprivation Induces Insulin Resistance in Multiple Metabolic Pathways in Healthy Subjects. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (2010)   E. Donga, M. van Dijk, J. G. van Dijk, N. R. Biermasz, G. J. Lammers, K. W. van Kralingen, E. P. M. Corssmit, J. A. Romijn. 


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Further reading

bad smells bring bad dreams  brain cooling machine inducing sleep  yawning monkey 
Sweet dreams require sweet smells  It takes a cool brain to sleep  How to handle being caught yawning during class

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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