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June 1, 2020

How Poor Sleep Affects Your Metabolism

poor sleep affects your metabolism
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Getting a good night of sleep is one of the best things you can do for your health. Poor sleep affects your metabolism increasing your risk of developing obesity, insulin resistance, and disruption of the gut microbiome.

Poor Sleep Affects Your Metabolism

So how does poor sleep affect metabolism and how it does that lead to:

  • obesity
  • insulin resistance
  • gut microbiome disruption?


Sleep-deprived individuals gravitate towards sweet and fatty comfort foods. These are high-caloric, nutrient poor foods. The quick energy these foods provide offsets the fatigue and sluggishness caused by a lack of sleep. Plus, since one is sleeping less they need more calories since they are awake and the body may overcompensate and trigger an appetite for high caloric foods.

One study showed that participants who ate the same calorie-dense meal felt more hungry on nights they were sleep-deprived as opposed to nights when they got 10 hours of sleep. And, they were more likely to store calories as fat following sleep-deprived nights.

We also produce more gherlin and less leptin when we are tired. Ghrelin stimulates appetite while leptin suppress appetite by providing a sense of satiety or fullness.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin is a hormone produced in response to a meal. Insulin helps to drive or move sugar from the blood into the cells. Some of us develop resistance to insulin leading the body (pancreas) to produce more insulin to get the job done.

The problem with this compensatory mechanism of making more insulin is the fact the insulin is a fattening hormone and eventually this leads to excess storage of body fat.

Insulin resistance left unchecked will eventually lead to diabetes.

Even one night of 4 hours of sleep can trigger insulin resistance on short-term basis. Get poor sleep several nights a week and this leads to a long-term problem of insulin resistance.

Microbiome Disruption

More and more is being learned about the importance of all the micro-organisms that live in our gut. What may be surprising is poor sleep can affect the make up of the gut microbiome leading to inflammation and insulin resistance and obesity.

Obstructive sleep apnea decreases levels of bacteria that produce butyrate. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (ketone) that has several properties that improve health.

All of these 3 conditions – obesity, insulin resistance, and microbiome disruption – are interrelated and lead to poor health.

Don’t let poor sleep affect your metabolism. Improve your sleep and you will improve your health.

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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