Jul 18, 2014 4:20 AM GMT
NYT: Sleep is essential for good health, as we all know. But a new study hints that there may be an easy but unrealized way to augment its virtues: lower the thermostat. Cooler bedrooms could subtly transform a person’s stores of brown fat — what has lately come to be thought of as “good fat” — and consequently alter energy expenditure and metabolic health, even into daylight hours.
Brown fat, unlike the more common white stuff, is metabolically active. Experiments with mice have shown that it takes sugar out of the bloodstream to burn calories and maintain core temperature.
Sleeping in the cold temperatures, it turned out, changed the men’s bodies noticeably. Most striking, after four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the men had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat. Their insulin sensitivity, which is affected by shifts in blood sugar, improved. Just by sleeping in a colder room, men gained metabolic advantages that could, over time, he says, lessen their risk for diabetes and other metabolic problems. The men also burned a few more calories throughout the day when their bedroom was chillier.