Sleep Can Help Regulate Obesity Gene

It can really seem unfair when you pack on the pounds whenever you indulge in your favorite foods. Meanwhile, a select few can still maintain a trim figure even after pigging out on cheeseburgers and chocolate cake.

Some people are just born lucky and have favorable genes. They have a naturally faster metabolism and can get away with eating more without suffering the consequences afterwards. Chances are that you are not one of these people. However, a new research suggests that the extent to which your genes affect your weight is actually dependent on the amount of sleep you get.

In a recent study, 1,088 pairs of twins, both identical and non-identical, had their sleeping habits analyzed. One twin was given nine hours of sleep, while the other got seven hours or less. The twin with the more sleep showed a body mass index that was 51 percent dependent on environmental factors, such as diet and exercise, with 32 percent being due to genetic makeup. For the twin that slept less, about 70 percent of their BMI can be attributed to their genes, while only about four percent was due to environmental influences.

The study was headed by Nathaniel Watson, M.D., the co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center. The use of twins for the study provided far better results. Since twins share identical DNA, any difference in their weight can be attributed to environmental factors rather than their genes.

Researchers have so far identified about 20 genes that are linked to the risk of obesity. This includes genes that regulate your blood sugar metabolism and appetite. It is believed that the amount of sleep can influence how these genes behave.

More sleep is generally a good thing. The research also now shows that if you want to keep a tight and solid tummy, then you should spend more time in dreamland.

Irregular Sleep Cycles can pose a Serious Health Risk

In an ideal world, everyone would get a full eight to nine hours of sleep daily. With the demands of work, however, that is not always possible. Some people are getting by with much less and rely on external stimulants, such as coffee and energy drinks to help them get through the day.

For people who work night or rotating shifts, the implications of a lack of rest may be even worse. Studies have long shown that the body is more naturally alert during the day. This is when the brain releases hormones and other chemicals to keep the body stimulated. Following a sleeping pattern that is out of sync with your body’s internal biological clock can have adverse health effects.

According to a study published in the Science Translational Medicine, over 20 participants were allotted a sleep time of six and a half hours during a 28-hour period. The sleep, however, would occur at different times of the day. This was done in an attempt to simulate what someone working a rotating shift would go through. This was followed by a recovery period in which the participants were allowed to sleep for nine hours at the usual time.

The results showed that sleep restriction combined with irregular sleeping hours lead to a decrease in the participant’s natural resting metabolic rate, which can contribute to weight gain. Furthermore, the study also showed that glucose levels increased in the blood after eating, which can increase the risk for diabetes.

Getting sleep in the right amount and at the right time is important for long-term health and well-being. However, this does not mean that you are doomed if you have to work a rotating shift. Some experts suggest that you can still maintain a healthy rhythm by exercising and modifying your diet. This will improve the quality of your sleep regardless of what time you go to bed.

Six Hour Sleep Gene Discovered

I don’t know about you, but I find it exceptionally annoying that if I don’t sleep for about 8 hours, my brain functionality drops like the apex of a Six Flags rollercoaster somewhere around 2pm. Not to mention the first half hour or so of the day immediately after I wake up, where if I can so much as remember my own name and not bash into things while walking disoriented with fatigue, I consider it a smashing success of a start.

sleep geneBut there’s something even more annoying than that. Some people can function just fine on six hours alone. That means, in 70 years, 8-hour sleepers live about 410,000 conscious hours. 6-hour sleepers get about 50,000 more up hours. That’s another five-and-a-half years more life awake than me. And now, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco believe they’ve found the gene that adds those 5.5 years to 6-hour sleepers’ lives.

Blood tests on a family where a mother and daughter sleep about 6 hours while the rest of the family takes about 8, found a mutation in a gene named DEC2, which regulates the body clock, complicatedly known as circadian rhythm. It’s the thing that gets all whacked out when you get jet lagged.

Dr. Ying-Hui FuApparently they’ve figured out how to implant this mutation in flies and mice, so that’s what the lead researcher on the project, Dr. Ying-Hui Fu did. (Pictured) What they found were flies and mice that, indeed, slept less, based on their brain wave patterns. (How else are you going to figure out if a fly is asleep? After all, they don’t exactly snore. And what is a brainwave exactly?)

If they’re handing out this mutation in pill form, I’m signing up. My DNA could use some good mutating. Not to mention I’m a fan of brain waves.