The fatty liver? A large part of it is all a matter of how we sleep at night. And very few improvements to nocturnal sleep are enough to see the risk of developing this condition decrease, as suggested by very recent scientific research published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (Yang et al, JCEM, July 2022).
What does fatty liver consist of
Fatty liver, or hepatic steatosis, is one of the main chronic liver diseases affecting the population globally. It is estimated that a quarter of the world's population has this condition, which consists of an accumulation of triglycerides between the cells of the liver. Fatty liver generally has no symptoms and acts silently until, in some cases, it can degenerate into liver inflammation and cirrhosis. The main culprits of fatty liver are, undoubtedly, obesity and type 2 diabetes. But, as emerges from the research we are talking about today, there is also more that can increase the risk of developing fatty liver disease, bad habits concerning sleep and daytime naps.
Disturbed sleep and fatty liver, the experiment
Scientists have recruited 5011 people, all with a diagnosis of fatty liver. Volunteers were asked to fill in questionnaires in order to assess their habits regarding night sleep and any naps during the day, as well as their health. Well, what emerged was that going to sleep very late, snoring frequently and the habit of taking daytime naps of more than 30 minutes are associated with a higher probability of developing fatty liver. Not only that, poor sleep quality increases the risk of developing fatty liver more in those people with a sedentary lifestyle and central obesity. However, the study also brings out another, very important consideration. That is, even a moderate improvement in sleep quality is sufficient to reduce the risk of fatty liver by up to 29%, even in people with an unhealthy lifestyle.
It is certainly essential to ensure an active lifestyle and a varied and balanced diet. In addition, to avoid the risk of fatty liver it is important, as emerges from this study, to take care of one's sleep habits, perhaps avoiding going to sleep late at night, limiting daytime naps and putting in place all the tools to improve sleep quality and to avoid snoring, such as not smoking, limiting alcohol or doing yoga exercises that strengthen upper airway muscles. We have dedicated several articles to how to avoid or at least limit snoring and sleep apnea, which disturb the quality of sleep. You can refer, for example, to the article Natural remedies and lifestyle to improve snoring and sleep apnea, or even How to combat snoring and sleep apnea and improve the quality of life.