August 3, 2021

New review demonstrates the impact of sleep duration and metabolic syndrome

Insulin resistance is preventable and reversible through lifestyle changes, proper nutrition, supplements, exercise and stress management. Metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance are a significant health care problem in the United States.

Sleep disruption is commonly associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity due to the effect of dysglycemia. This altered glucose metabolism is associated with not only poor sleep but also shorter sleep duration and an increased risk of sleep apnea.

According to a review published last month in Nutrients, researchers investigated the association between sleep duration in metabolic syndrome in the 2013/2014 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES).

This review was a cross-sectional study including 2,737 individuals. Assessment models analyzed the relationship between metabolic syndrome disease severity and sleep duration. As a result, the lowest average disease severity score was associated in individuals sleeping 7 hours per night. Shortened and longer sleep durations were associated with a higher disease severity as well as a higher risk of metabolic syndrome.

There are some possible mechanisms involved. Growth hormone release takes place during stage 3 in sleep. This is considered the most important stage of sleep as numerous activities such as, fat burning and general regeneration and repair take place during this time. In addition, the longest part of stage 3 occurs prior to midnight. Therefore, individuals going to sleep later, would suppress growth hormone. Furthermore, advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are significantly in individuals with chronic sleep disturbance. This increases inflammation and sympathetic nervous system activity.

Previous research also demonstrates how sleep disruption increases amyloid beta and tau proteins. It is highly unlikely that there is an overall increased risk of developing cognitive decline simply from a few nights or a week of poor sleep.  Amyloid beta and tau protein levels will go back down after the next good of sleep, however, the main issue is those that have chronic sleep issues. This can lead to chronically elevated amyloid levels leading to increased risk of cognitive decline.

It is important to address the environment to promote restful sleep. It is important limit use of screens at bedtime although it is very hard to today’s society. If necessary, I would recommend using apps like Night Shift (smartphones) and f.lux for laptops. Blue light blocking glasses may also be beneficial. In addition, it is important that people go to sleep around the same time every night. When the timing of one’s sleep is shifted even if the duration of sleep is the same, it’s not going to be as restorative. Caffeine and other stimulants can keep you up and interfere with sleep. It is best to avoid these four to six hours before bedtime. Finally, try to get your workout in earlier in the day. Exercise increases cortisol and can make hard trying to fall asleep. If not possible, consider phosphatidylserine post workout. Other nutrients to consider to help restore sleep include magnesium l-threonate, valerian root, passionflower, lemon balm, melatonin, and phytocannabinoids.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNSSource: Smiley A, King D, Bidulescu A. The Association between Sleep Duration and Metabolic Syndrome: The NHANES 2013/2014. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 26; 11(11).

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