(HealthDay News) – Prolonged inadequate sleep at irregular times lowers the resting metabolic rate and leads to defects in pancreatic insulin secretion, increasing the risk for obesity and diabetes.

Orfeu M. Buxton, PhD, and colleagues from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, studied the metabolic consequences of three weeks of sleep restriction (5.6 hours per 24 hours) combined with circadian disruption. The study followed a baseline period of optimal sleep by the 21 healthy adult participants.

The researchers found that sleep restriction and circadian disruption led to a lower resting metabolic rate. This was also associated with increased plasma glucose concentrations after meals, which was due to a 32% drop in pancreatic insulin secretion. However, these parameters normalized after nine days of recovery sleep at the usual times.

“Thus, in humans, prolonged sleep restriction with concurrent circadian disruption alters metabolism and could increase the risk of obesity and diabetes,” Buxton and colleagues conclude.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical, publishing, and medical technology industries; one author has served as an expert witness in a case involving sleep, circadian rhythms, and diabetes.

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