A new study shows sleep deprivation is linked to the development of visceral fat, the dangerous fat that accumulates on the belly.
There’s now even more evidence linking lack of sleep with weight gain and excess visceral fat.
Too much visceral fat is connected to high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol and insulin resistance, all of which can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, according to the Daily Mail.
The latest sleep study suggests that even an hour less of the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep a night can lead to a pot belly.
The excess fat around the torso and tummy is visceral fat, which surrounds vital organs and leaks fatty acids into the bloodstream. It is not the same as subcutaneous fat, which is just below the skin’s surface and appears ‘ripply’ — or as cellulite — and is not dangerous in the same way.
Scientists studied 5,000 adults — half men, half women, with an average age of 37 — in U.S. National Health and Nutrition surveys and all were asked to rate their sleep from one hour to 12.
Average sleep was less than seven hours nightly among the study group.
One less hour of sleep, seven to eight hours being the goal, was tied to an overall increase of about 12 grams of visceral fat mass.
Too little sleep alters the regulation of activity in parts of the brain connected to the reward centre, sleep and appetite, which could explain the link between sleep deprivation and visceral body fat storage.
Lack of sleep can lead to insulin resistance, which is also linked to high visceral fat.
Study researcher Dr Panagiotis Giannos said, “Our study adds to emerging evidence suggesting a prominent link between sleep deprivation and weight gain, which could be clinically significant, as visceral adiposity is associated with metabolic issues such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
The study was published in science direct.com and is one of several recent studies that show how sleep deprivation and fat accumulation are linked.
Eight hours of sleep a night is ideal; the benefits of sleep duration plateau at eight hours.
Getting enough sleep has a profound effect on mental and physical health in general. Nonetheless, over one-third of North Americans do not sleep enough on a regular basis.