Study offers clues on why sleepless nights can contribute to weight gain

August 23, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

An international team of researchers has found that a single sleepless night can alter metabolic processes leading to weight gain and lack of muscle maintenance. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team describes their study of the impact of a sleepless night on several volunteers.

Prior research has shown that interfering with normal sleep patterns can lead to weight gain—night shift workers, for example, have a tendency to gain weight. But until now, the mechanism responsible for such has not been known. To learn more, the researchers with this new effort enlisted the assistance of 15 adult volunteers. Each volunteer was tested in a lab on two separate occasions. One of the occasions was after getting a good night's sleep, the other was after the volunteer had stayed up all night. Each submitted blood, fat and samples, which the researchers then studied looking for differences.

They found differences in gene activity linked to the production of proteins associated with and cell proliferation in the volunteers between the two visits. More specifically, they found that when volunteers missed a night of sleep, they had elevated levels of both metabolites and proteins that are involved in the process of storing fat. They also experienced a breakdown of proteins that are involved in muscle buildup and repair. The researchers also found that missing a single of sleep caused changes to genes that have been associated with a type of inflammation linked to the development of type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The team reports that they do not know how long the metabolic changes lasted after the volunteers returned to normal sleep patterns. But they point out that their study shows that sleep serves more functions than previously thought—it is not just to rejuvenate the brain or to conserve energy, it also plays a role in overall metabolism. They suggest more study is required to determine if such changes due to episodic sleep disruptions become long-term.

Explore further: Study shows that people most affected by alcohol also most impacted by sleep deprivation

More information: Jonathan Cedernaes et al. Acute sleep loss results in tissue-specific alterations in genome-wide DNA methylation state and metabolic fuel utilization in humans, Science Advances (2018). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar8590

Abstract
Curtailed sleep promotes weight gain and loss of lean mass in humans, although the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. We investigated the genomic and physiological impact of acute sleep loss in peripheral tissues by obtaining adipose tissue and skeletal muscle after one night of sleep loss and after one full night of sleep. We find that acute sleep loss alters genome-wide DNA methylation in adipose tissue, and unbiased transcriptome-, protein-, and metabolite-level analyses also reveal highly tissue-specific changes that are partially reflected by altered metabolite levels in blood. We observe transcriptomic signatures of inflammation in both tissues following acute sleep loss, but changes involving the circadian clock are evident only in skeletal muscle, and we uncover molecular signatures suggestive of muscle breakdown that contrast with an anabolic adipose tissue signature. Our findings provide insight into how disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms may promote weight gain and sarcopenia.

Press release

Related Stories

Study shows that people most affected by alcohol also most impacted by sleep deprivation

July 17, 2018
A team of researchers from the German Aerospace Center and Forschungszentrum Jülich has found that people who are most susceptible to alcohol intoxication are also most susceptible to cognitive problems due to sleep deprivation. ...

Sleep and Alzheimer's disease connection

October 17, 2017
How often do you get a good night's sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend adults get an average of at least seven hours of sleep a night. Dr. Ronald Petersen, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, says ...

Study shows changing sleeping patterns can alter gene expression cycles

January 21, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Surrey in the U.K. have found that drastically altered sleep schedules (such as switching to working a night shift) can dramatically impact gene expression rhythm. In their ...

Light exposure during sleep may increase insulin resistance

June 5, 2018
According to preliminary results from a new study, nighttime light exposure during sleep may affect metabolic function. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that light exposure at night during sleep adversely ...

Immune system reboots during sleep

January 4, 2017
(HealthDay)—Researchers say they've gained new insight into how the immune system restores itself during sleep.

One night of sleep loss can alter clock genes in your tissues

July 20, 2015
Swedish researchers at Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institute have found that genes that control the biological clocks in cells throughout the body are altered after losing a single night of sleep, in a study that ...

Recommended for you

Precision neuroengineering enables reproduction of complex brain-like functions in vitro

November 14, 2018
One of the most important and surprising traits of the brain is its ability to dynamically reconfigure the connections to process and respond properly to stimuli. Researchers from Tohoku University (Sendai, Japan) and the ...

Gene mutation found to cause macrocephaly and intellectual deficits

November 13, 2018
The absence of one copy of a single gene in the brain causes a rare, as-yet-unnamed neurological disorder, according to new research that builds on decades of work by a University at Buffalo biochemist and his colleagues.

Can scientists change mucus to make it easier to clear, limiting harm to lungs?

November 12, 2018
For healthy people, mucus is our friend. It traps potential pathogens so our airways can dispatch nasty bugs before they cause harm to our lungs. But for people with conditions such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive ...

Scientists uncover new gatekeeper function of anti-aging molecule

November 12, 2018
The protein klotho has been shown to promote longevity and counteract aging-related impairments. Having more klotho seems to allow for longer and healthier lives, whereas a depletion of this molecule accelerates aging and ...

Mutations, CRISPR, and the biology behind movement disorders

November 12, 2018
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science (CBS) in Japan have discovered how mutations related to a group of movement disorders produce their effects. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the ...

Researchers explain how your muscles form

November 12, 2018
All vertebrates need muscles to function; they are the most abundant tissue in the human body and are integral to movement.

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.