A study from researchers at the Harvard Medical School has shed new light on why poor sleep habits and shift work have been linked with obesity and diabetes. There has been a long established connection between shift work, sleeplessness and obesity, but now Dr. Orfeu Buxton and his team may have discovered the reason behind that link.
Buxton and his team recruited 21 men and women, then intentionally altered their sleep routines. Each participant started with a normal night's rest and then for five weeks gradually cut back on the amount of sleep. The researchers then had the subjects go to bed and rise four hours later, mimicking jet lag.
"We imposed a disrupted cycle and schedule of activities, from sleeping, waking, eating and fasting that was in misalignment with their endogenous 24-hour circadian clock," Buxton tells time.com. "Nobody would do a night shift as punishing as this."
By the end of the five weeks, they found that on average each of the participants' resting metabolic rate was eight percent lower than it was at the outset. According to Buxton, this could lead to a weight gain of at least ten pounds in five weeks if diet and exercise were not changed accordingly.
"If you're not getting enough sleep, then it's hard to find the energy to exercise," says Buxton. "And if you're not getting enough sleep, you not only eat more than you need but you tend to make poorer food choices. So in terms of obtaining optimum health, all three pillars — diet, exercise and sleep — are important."
by RTT Staff Writer
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