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Mild sleep disturbances could trigger obesity


A study in the Netherlands has found that conditions such as obesity and diabetes could be caused in part by ‘mild impairment’ to the body’s circadian rhythm, thanks to metabolic changes that can occur through disturbed sleep.

The research involved exposing laboratory mice to constant light, which over time resulted in a shift in energy metabolism and insulin sensitivity, along with a degradation of their internal body clocks (circadian rhythm) concurrent with aging. While the adjustment in body clock function was described as ‘mild’, the metabolic changes were said to be ‘severe’, underlining the dramatic health impact that a relatively slight impairment can cause.

"We should acknowledge the unforeseen importance of our 24-hour rhythms for health," said Claudia Coomans, Ph.D, from the Department of Molecular Cell Biology in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at Leiden University Medical Center. "To quote Seneca 'We should live according to nature’."

The results of the study were published in the FASEB journal.

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