Sleep loss, even sporadically – such as from jet lag, or regular sleep disruptions experienced by shift workers – have been associated with obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that combine for a greater risk of heart disease and stroke).
Even minor weekly alterations in sleep loss (as few as 5 consecutive nights of insufficient sleep) have been linked to a higher risk of obesity. Not only has recurrent sleep loss been linked to weight gain, it is now suspected that frequent instances of sleep loss can alter “metabolic memory.” This was shown through one study of otherwise healthy young men both after a night of sleep loss and after a night of full sleep.
The study analyzed blood samples and biopsies from the vastus lateralis muscle (VLM) and fat tissues from the two groups of participants. The blood samples’ pathway analysis showed significantly altered muscle proteins in the morning following sleep loss versus those after a night of normal sleep. And, declining muscle mass seems to become “learned” due to a disruption of DNA.
Acute sleep loss causes changes in DNA “methylation” (a process that alters the activity of a DNA segment without changing its sequence) in fat-absorbing tissues. In addition to study participants being investigated after a night of sleep loss and after a night of normal sleep, researchers verified standard physical activity and caloric intake to prevent influences from other factors that could alter outcomes.
But, even occasional sleep loss increases risk factors for rewiring of the DNA processes. To read more details of the study, download the attached (how disruption of sleep and circadian rhythms may promote weight gain and sarcopenia.). Be forewarned, however, it contains complex scientific terminology. Yet, it doesn’t take a scientist to decipher the main message: Sleep loss triggers a disruption in the efficient functions of the body, which can alter our DNA.
In our Shelby Township dental office, we have devoted numerous hours to understanding the causes of heaving snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). As a Neuromuscular dentist with advanced training in the proper alignment and structures of the head, I have a unique appreciation for the domino effect that can occur when the balance is disrupted.
This intricate understanding of the integration of the oral structures and airway passages has lead us to provide custom-designed, small, comfortable, FDA approved mouth appliances that eliminate the need for CPAP devices (for those who are heavily snore or have mild to moderate sleep apnea).