It’s no secret that just one night of bad sleep can mess with your mental state (hey, delirium!) But you might be surprised to learn that it affects your waistline too.
According to a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, losing just a few hours of shut-eye can slow your metabolism.
To find out why this is the case, researchers examined mice that had access to sugar water and fatty foods. They split them into two groups, letting one group sleep as much as they wanted and keeping the other awake for six hours each night.
After just one cycle like this, the sleep-deprived mice had higher blood sugar and higher liver triglycerides – which are warning signs of diabetes. They also found that the enzyme that modulates metabolism wasn’t working the way it should, which suggests that fewer zzz’s can actually change our bodies on a cellular level.
These findings show that establishing good sleeping patterns may be beneficial for anyone who has hit a weight loss plateau.
“This also goes for people who report weight gain without any major changes in their diets,” registered dietitian Jaime Schehr told mindbodygreen. “There are other factors at play, to be sure, but when we are able to improve sleep, it almost always improves weight loss.”