We’ve all had a poor night of sleep before, and we’ve all probably dealt with the sweet cravings that bombarded us the following day. Maple syrup, fruit, donuts, cupcakes—our willpower simply doesn’t function as well when we’re tired.
But according to recent research, willpower isn’t the only thing that suffers after a bad night’s rest. Your metabolism gets wrecked, too. Even after only ONE sleepless night.
In a study out of Uppsala University, researchers tested blood samples of adults both before and after either a good night of sleep or a night of no sleep. Not only did those who had a sleepless night experience an overall increase in bodily inflammation, but they also experienced shifts in DNA methylation, which is how the body turns genes on and off.
Specifically, the genes responsible for increasing stored fat were turned on while muscle tissue seemed to break down, a process which encourages obesity. Glucose sensitivity was also impaired. Over time, this effect from too little sleep is the perfect recipe for weight gain and the development of chronic inflammatory diseases like diabetes.
We’ve long known that chronic sleep deprivation can result in an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, cancer, and serious chronic diseases, but even one night of bad sleep seems to have a pronounced negative effect on the body.
While researchers aren’t sure how long this negative effect lasts or whether lifestyle shifts can counteract it, keep this research in mind the next time you try burning the candle at both ends.
A good, restful, full night of sleep is so important to balanced health. It keeps your immune system strong, recharges your brain, supports hormonal balance, and even helps you store memories. While everyone has different sleep needs, depending on their unique body, most people should aim for between six and nine hours a night.
Having trouble getting a solid night of rest? Take a look at your nighttime ritual.
Are you checking your emails right before bed? Are you watching TV shows? Not only does a dose of tech before bed emit circadian rhythm-disturbing blue light, but doing focused tasks at bedtime can also increase stress levels and impair sleep. Neither of those are ideal when you’re trying to unwind and catch some Zs.
Do yourself a favor and ditch the nighttime technology and read a book instead. It might help you sleep better and, by association, support a more balanced metabolism and a healthy weight. Remember: wellness is all connected!