According to a new study, lack of sleep can elevate levels of free fatty acids in the blood, accompanied by temporary prediabetic conditions in healthy young men.
The study examined the impact of sleep loss on 24-hour fatty acid levels in the blood, and revealed that insufficient sleep may disrupt fat metabolism and reduce the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars.
The study, published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, provides new insights into the connections, first described by the University of Chicago researchers 15 years ago, between sleep loss, insulin resistance and heightened risk of type 2 diabetes.
For the study, the researchers recruited 19 healthy males between 18 and 30 years of age, and found that sleep restriction resulted in a 15 percent to 30 percent increase in late night and early morning fatty acid levels.
The elevation of fatty acids, particularly between 4am to 6am, correlated with an increase in insulin resistance—a hallmark of prediabetes—that persisted for nearly five hours. The result was a significant loss of the benefits of insulin.