Does It Hurt to Miss One Night of Sleep?

Sleep Mask

Pulling an all-nighter is something of a college tradition and may occasionally occur in the workplace as well. If you're trying to lose weight, however, skipping sleep – or even cutting back a little – is a mistake. Your brain is what runs your metabolic furnace and the brain is incredibly sensitive to sleep deprivation.

A study from Sweden found that missing just one night of sleep actually altered the genes that control the biological clocks in human cells. The researchers performed genetic analysis on the test subjects after a good night's sleep and after the men had been kept awake all night. Other research has clearly linked chronic sleep deprivation to increased snacking (especially on carbohydrates and high-fat foods), poor insulin sensitivity and obesity. For example, people who regularly work night shifts or who rotate shifts tend to gain weight because of sleep disruption.

When your brain is sleep-deprived it affects your decision-making abilities. You might be able to resist the siren song of a chocolate chip cookie when you're well-rested, but not when you're short on ZZZs. A study at UC Berkeley found that after just one night without sleep, study participants faced with potato chips and sweets showed much stronger responses in the part of the brain that controls the motivation to eat. At the same time, activity dropped in the frontal cortex, which governs decision-making and an evaluation of consequences.

Sleeping a lot won't help you lose weight – in fact it can be just as bad as too little sleep – but too little sleep definitely has a negative effect on your metabolism. The counselors at the Metabolic Research Center can help you with all of the important healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as eating nutritious real food, getting proper exercise and strategies to ensure a good night's rest.



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