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Is Sleep Deprivation Making You Fat?

In this new study, researchers found lack of sleep may be messing with your metabolism in a big way—and setting the stage for obesity and diabetes.

If solid shuteye only happens when you go on vacation, keep in mind that sleep is for more than just refreshing your mind. A new study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine provides fresh evidence that lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing diabetes and obesity.

Other research has already linked sleep deprivation to these conditions, so what’s new with this study?

Researchers discovered that too many late nights affect how your body responds to insulin—a hormone that regulates your appetite and metabolism. In particular, after healthy men and women slept only 4.5 hours of sleep a night for four days, their fat cells became 30 percent less sensitive to insulin. The researchers compared it to the cells of a healthy person changing into those of an obese or diabetic person.

If you have trouble sleeping the recommended 7 to 9 hours a night, try these tips for restful sleep:

  • Cut out the caffeine four to six hours before going to bed.
  • Relax for 10 to 60 minutes before bedtime to disconnect from the day’s stress.
  • Exercise at the right time. If working out wakes you up, hit the gym in the morning.
  • Turn out the lights in your bedroom, including your computer and smartphone screens, so they don't mess with your body’s internal clock.
  • Save the bed for sex and sleep. That’s it …period.

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