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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

What sleep deprivation does to your fat cells

The ill effects of getting too little sleep -- weight gain, increased diabetes risk and more -- have been known for a long time, but now researchers think they’ve identified the cellular process for how sleep deprivation takes its toll. Just a few nights of scanty sleep reduces the response of fat cells to the hormone insulin, which puts the body, at least temporarily, into a state akin to pre-diabetes.

A small clinical trial published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine compared fat cells in seven college students both before and after they slept 4.5 hours a night for four consecutive nights and found that their cells were 30 percent less responsive to insulin after their period of sleep deprivation.

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