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Getting a good night’s sleep stops you putting on weight

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Want to lose weight?  Then respect your natural body clock—that means sleeping when it’s night and waking up when it’s light.

Mess with this natural cycle, and your body will start piling on the pounds.  It’s the body’s protective move against what it sees as a stressful situation, say researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine.

When we’re out of sync with our body clock, our body starts a process that boosts fat cell growth and insulin production, which also gets converted into fat.  

In an experiment on laboratory mice, glucocorticoids—stress-related hormones—increased fat levels within 21 days and insulin levels ‘skyrocketed’.  “If you stress the animals at the wrong time, it has a dramatic effect.  The mice aren’t eating differently but a big shift in metabolism causes weight gain,” said Mary Teruel, one of the researchers.

The researchers think there would be a similar reaction in people if they became stressed by interfering with their natural body clock.  It seems that the body determines which cells become fat cells during a four-hour rest period, and so disturbing the body’s downtime could be causing body fat to spread.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022; 119; doi: 10/1073/pnas.2204470119

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