Man, I just love it when researchers confirm that my lifestyle choices – including sleeping late and then drinking coffee – are good for me.
Well, okay, I might be simplifying a bit. But what the heck am I supposed to think when I receive an email alert with a headline that reads something like sleeping until noon fixes metabolic syndrome?
The real story, which is slightly more complex, was reported in a MedPage Today article:
Two nights of good sleep appeared to reverse the negative metabolic effects that can come with short-term sleep deprivation, according to a new study.
Researchers took 19 participants, all of them “lean” young men, and restricted their sleep to only 4.5 hours in bed for four consecutive nights. The participants were then allowed two consecutive nights of 12 hours in bed on the first night and 10 hours on the second night.
Sounds very much like my sleeping pattern in college … although I wouldn’t have been categorized as a “lean” young man at the time.
Insulin sensitivity was reduced by 23% after sleep restriction compared to normal sleep (at about 8 hours a night), but gained about half of that reduction back after sleep recovery, according to Josiane Broussard, PhD, at the University of Colorado Boulder, and colleagues.
That’s why you don’t want to short yourself on sleep: you reduce your insulin sensitivity, which another way of saying you increase insulin resistance.
Actually, that’s just one of several reasons. Not getting enough sleep also raises your stress hormones and (pay attention, guys) reduces your testosterone production.
“A common question is whether, and how quickly, an individual can recover from the adverse effects of sleep loss on glucose homeostasis. We have demonstrated that 2 nights of recovery sleep averaging nearly 10 hours per night following 4 nights of sleep restriction in healthy young lean men is sufficient to improve insulin sensitivity,” they wrote in Diabetes Care.
“The metabolic response to this extra sleep was very interesting and encouraging,” said co-author, Esra Tasali, MD, of the University of Chicago, in a press release. “It shows that young, healthy people who sporadically fail to get sufficient sleep during the work week can reduce their diabetes risk if they catch up on sleep during the weekend.”
Of course, it’s better if you don’t need to catch up on sleep in the first place. But if that morning alarm is yanking you awake all during the workweek, do yourself a favor: don’t schedule anything before noon on weekends and sleep until you wake up naturally.
And if you plan to hit the gym after waking up, perhaps you should drink some coffee first, at least according to a Science Daily article:
For anyone struggling to keep the New Year Resolution to ‘Do More Exercise’ science shows a solution could be found in a simple cup of coffee.
In a paper published this month in the scientific journal Sports Medicine, Professor Samuele Marcora, a University of Kent endurance expert, suggests the use of caffeine could help people stick to their fitness plans.
Responding to the findings that the majority of people give up their resolution to do more exercise within the first 6 months, Professor Marcora, Director of Research at the University’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, said his research could provide a solution.
Professor Marcora suggests that reducing perception of effort during exercise using caffeine (or other psychoactive drugs like methylphenidate and modafinil) could help the many people who find difficult to stick to their fitness plans.
I don’t like the taste of modafinil, so I’m sticking with the coffee. But truth be told, Professor Marcora’s hypothesis sounds just a wee bit speculative.
Professor Marcora points out that perception of effort is one of the main reasons why most people choose sedentary activities for their leisure time. Compared to watching television (zero effort), even moderate-intensity physical activities like walking require considerable effort. He says that the use of caffeine or other psychoactive drugs to reduce perception of effort during exercise can make the healthy choice easier.
First off, I disagree that watching TV requires zero effort, at least in my house. To watch TV, I first have to figure out where the hell the girls hid my remote. This often involves lifting the sofa with one hand while trying to grab the remote off the floor beneath it with the other. There’s both stretching and progressive resistance required.
Or it involves a hike around the house, including running up and down stairs, to see if one of them decided to go the bathroom while holding the remote and then set the thing on the lip of the tub while doing whatever it is girls do after going to the bathroom. (Whatever it is, it’s apparently not possible to continue holding the remote while doing it. It’s also apparently not possible to remember you carried a remote into the bathroom. )
Secondly, I don’t think people give up on the resolution to exercise after six months because they’re genetically lazy and need coffee. I think they give up because they finally realize that all those hours on the treadmill aren’t inducing the weight loss they wanted.
That being said, if I can blame the morning coffee for my recent workout sessions on the bike, I’m good with that. But I suspect sleeping late figures into it as well.
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