Cooler bedroom temperatures may boost metabolic activity

July 28, 2014

A new study has found that turning the thermostat down a few notches at night may expand brown fat tissue mass and activity, which could lead to metabolic benefits such as more effective disposal of glucose.

Researchers found that mild, prolonged – in the range commonly achieved in climate-controlled buildings – is sufficient to expand brown adipose tissue mass and activity, while exposure to warm temperatures result in suppression of this tissue.

Brown adipose tissue is a specialized form of that produces heat by burning energy to maintain an organism's core temperature.

In the study, published last month in the journal Diabetes, researchers studied the effects of long-term exposure to mild cold on fat cells in five healthy, lean male volunteers. They spent a total of four consecutive months sleeping in the temperature-controlled rooms at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Center. They were able to perform normal activities during the day.

During the first month, the overnight temperature was "neutral" at roughly 75 degrees. The next month it was cooled to 66 degrees; for the third, it went back to 75 degrees; and finally, for the fourth, it was 81 degrees.

At the end of each month the volunteers underwent metabolic testing in the metabolic chambers at 75 degrees and 66 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the team noted double the volume of , and insulin sensitivity improved.

"Our study was performed in lean healthy volunteers, but this is an important proof of concept that brown adipose tissue activation can provide metabolic benefits, such as a reduced risk for diabetes," said lead author Francesco S. Celi, M.D., chair and professor in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

According to Celi, who conducted the research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) while he was staff clinician at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the team will expand their research to examine these effects in individuals who are overweight or insulin-resistant who may benefit from these results.

In previous work, the team analyzed the effects of acute cold exposure and identified crosstalk between skeletal muscle and brown fat tissue that is mediated by an exercise-induced hormone. This metabolic signaling may help the body more efficiently maintain its core temperature.

Explore further: Researchers discover that brown fat protects against diabetes and obesity in humans

Related Stories

Researchers discover that brown fat protects against diabetes and obesity in humans

July 23, 2014
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have shown for the first time that people with higher levels of brown fat, or brown adipose tissue, in their bodies have better blood sugar control, higher ...

Cold exposure stimulates beneficial brown fat growth

June 23, 2014
Long-term mild cold exposure can stimulate brown fat growth and activity in humans and may benefit glucose and energy metabolism, a new study finds. The results were presented in a poster Sunday, June 22 at ICE/ENDO 2014, ...

The ICEMAN study: How keeping cool could spur metabolic benefits

June 22, 2014
A new study being presented today at ICE/ENDO 2014, the joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society in Chicago, demonstrates that ambient temperatures can influence the growth or ...

Team finds on-off switch to burning stored fat

June 5, 2014
Scientists this week reported that a molecular pathway called mTORC1 controls the conversion of unhealthy white fat into beige fat, an appealing target for increasing energy expenditure and reducing obesity. The team, led ...

Activating the immune system could treat obesity and diabetes

June 5, 2014
Obesity is a worldwide epidemic that is causing alarming rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but currently there is a lack of effective drug treatments. Two unrelated studies published by Cell Press June 5th in ...

Gene behind unhealthy adipose tissue identified

May 22, 2014
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have for the first time identified a gene driving the development of pernicious adipose tissue in humans. The findings imply, which are published in the scientific journal Cell ...

Recommended for you

A sodium surprise: Engineers find unexpected result during cardiac research

July 20, 2017
Irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—can have sudden and often fatal consequences. A biomedical engineering team at Washington University in St. Louis examining molecular behavior in cardiac tissue recently made a surprising ...

Want to win at sports? Take a cue from these mighty mice

July 20, 2017
As student athletes hit training fields this summer to gain the competitive edge, a new study shows how the experiences of a tiny mouse can put them on the path to winning.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant

July 19, 2017
Many diseases, including cirrhosis and hepatitis, can lead to liver failure. More than 17,000 Americans suffering from these diseases are now waiting for liver transplants, but significantly fewer livers are available.

Lunatic Fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain

July 19, 2017
The discovery that the brain can generate new cells - about 700 new neurons each day - has triggered investigations to uncover how this process is regulated. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Jan and Dan Duncan ...

'Smart' robot technology could give stroke rehab a boost

July 19, 2017
Scientists say they have developed a "smart" robotic harness that might make it easier for people to learn to walk again after a stroke or spinal cord injury.

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine

July 19, 2017
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the case of hepatitis C—a disease that affects nearly 71 million people worldwide, causing cirrhosis and liver cancer if left untreated—it might be worth ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.