Gradual Sleep Deprivation, Obesity and Cognitive Impairment

By getting less than our required amount of sleep over an extended period of time (two weeks, for example) we are increasing our risk of obesity and impairing our cognitive abilities without even being aware of it.

That’s the conclusion from a short article summarising the surprising effects of gradual sleep deprivation:

Researchers […] restricted volunteers to less than six hours in bed per night for two weeks. The volunteers perceived only a small increase in sleepiness and thought they were functioning relatively normally. However, formal testing showed that their cognitive abilities and reaction times progressively declined [until] they were as impaired as subjects who had been awake continuously for 48 hours.

Moreover, […] too little sleep changes the body’s secretion of some hormones. The changes promote appetite, reduce the sensation of feeling full after a meal, and alter the body’s response to sugar intake—changes that can promote weight gain and increase the risk of developing diabetes. […]

A recent review […] of the large studies that followed people over time agreed that short sleep duration was associated with future weight gain. […] For example, [one study] showed an inverse correlation between sleep duration and obesity in high-school-age students. The shorter the sleep, the higher the likelihood of being overweight, with those getting six to seven hours of sleep more than two and a half times as likely to be overweight as those getting more than eight hours. […]

The good news is that these effects can be reversed by getting an adequate amount of sleep. […] Allowing the study subjects to sleep 10 hours for two consecutive nights returned the hormones to normal levels and lowered hunger and appetite ratings by almost 25 percent.

via @finiteattention