Lack of sleep can make you grumpy and foggy, but you may not know how harmful lack of sleep can be. A recent study published in the Journal of Lipid Research suggests that just a few days of sleep disruption can make you feel less full after eating and change the metabolism of fat in food.

Lack of sleep and metabolism

Many previous studies have found that sleep disruption can have harmful effects on metabolism. For instance, a 2014 study suggests that decreasing either the amount or quality of sleep decreases insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, and can lead to obesity and diabetes.


While most of the studies have focused on the effect of sleep disruption on glucose metabolism, few have assessed how sleep disruption affects the metabolism of lipids.


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Sleep disruption and the metabolism of lipids

In the latest study, 15 healthy men in their 20s were asked to stay in the lab for ten nights. For five of those nights the participants spent no more than five hours in bed each night.


After four nights of sleep restriction, the researchers gave them a standardized high-fat dinner and a bowl of chili mac. It turned out that the participants who didn't have enough sleep felt less satisfied after eating the same meal.


Besides, the researchers found that sleep restriction affected the postprandial lipid response, leading to faster clearance of lipids from the blood after a meal. This means people deprived of sleep are more likely to gain weight. "The lipids weren't evaporating — they were being stored," said one of the senior authors, Orfeu Buxton.

Although the study only focused on healthy young people, who are usually at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and all the participants were men, it still gives worthwhile insight into how people should deal with fat digestion.


"This study's importance relies on its translational relevance. A high-fat meal in the evening, at dinnertime...That's very American," said Buxton.

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