Your Stomach Knows When You Skimp on Sleep


How much sleep do you get per night? If you're like most Americans, probably not enough. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. But that's hard to do if you stay up late to watch your favorite shows, submerge yourself in social media, take care of small children, check-off more things on your to-do list, hang out with friends after hours, or maybe have a sleep disorder.

If you're getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night, and don't take an afternoon nap, there's a good chance you feel the effects in more ways than one. There are the typical side effects of lack of sleep like fatigue, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, and drowsiness. Lack of sleep can also lead to heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems. And if you're not getting enough Zzzs, it can even have an impact on your stomach, according to a new study published in the journal Molecular Metabolism.

In a small study about sleep and metabolism, researchers found that lack of sleep (4 hours or less per night) over time, may alter gut microbiota and hormone levels. In other words, your stomach knows when you skimp on sleep. Researchers found that the sleep-deprived people in the study showed a decrease in insulin sensitivity, which can contribute to high blood sugar levels and raise the risk for diabetes.

Here's the bottom line about sleep and metabolism. For best health, you need to get 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye. If you're not, take a closer look at your schedule and evening activities, and see if you can make some changes. If that's not an option, maybe you can work in an afternoon nap to avoid the side effects of lack of sleep.

Getting enough sleep is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and a healthy diet is important too. And if you need some ideas on eating healthy, or want an easy-to-make-meal made from fresh ingredients, check out the menu.