Monday, October 15, 2007

"Mark my words, you will become a super genius once you start getting proper rest."

New York Magazine's recent feature on the biological impact of sleep deprivation was well timed for obvious reasons. Mind you the article focused mostly on the relation of sleep and the cognitive development of children, but this really struck a chord with me:

"While the neurocognitive sleep discoveries are impressive, there’s equally groundbreaking research on how sleep affects metabolism. Five years ago, already aware of an association between sleep apnea and diabetes, Dr. Eve Van Cauter at the University of Chicago discovered a 'neuroendocrine cascade' that links sleep to obesity.

"Sleep loss increases the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger, and decreases its metabolic opposite, leptin, which suppresses appetite. Sleep loss also elevates the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is lipogenic, meaning it stimulates your body to make fat. Human growth hormone is also disrupted. Normally secreted as a big pulse at the beginning of sleep, growth hormone is essential for the breakdown of fat."

Curious. I've gained weight recently, which I attributed to stress (stress always equals weight gain for me). And since diabetes runs in my family, I'm scared shitless of getting it. But could my recent weight gain correlate to The Apnea or is it more complicated than that?

At best what I can look forward once I get my apnea mask is a better night's sleep. And if more sleep equals better cognitive functions, then I can expect to be a "super genius" as Dennise has theorized. But I can also look forward to more energy and less of that pesky neuroendocrine cascade. And that, my friends, would be awesome.

1 comment:

EnnuiHerself said...

I would wager that lack of sleep --> stress --> increased cortisol levels (plus the affects on the other hormones in the metabolic pathway) --> weight gain.

It should be noted that usually when people talk about stress, they mean anxiety from, say, work or relationships. Stress in the biological sense means a state in which the body is not operating under ideal conditions. This can include being too hot, too hungry, or even too tired.

That ends today's science lesson.