Can’t sleep? You’re at risk for diabetes

sleep-linked-to-diabetesIt seems like there’s not enough time in a day to get everything we need to do done. So instead of putting tasks off until tomorrow, we stay up later, encroaching on our sleep time.

It may not seem like a big deal now to skimp on some shuteye, but over time, this has a negative impact on your weight and your metabolism. Those are two health indicators you want to stay on top of.


In fact, losing just half an hour of sleep daily is enough to start affecting your body, as well as increase your chances of developing diabetes. That’s according to new research presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.

Looking at sleep, obesity and diabetes

glucose-levelIn the study, conducted by Doha, Qatar’s Weill Cornell Medical College, 522 patients took part. The group included participants who had been previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

At the beginning, participants’ height, weight and waist circumference were measured, and samples of their blood were examined for insulin sensitivity. They were then required to keep sleep diaries, from which their weekday “sleep debt” was calculated. Those who had a weekday sleep debt were found to be 72 percent more likely to be obese, compared with participants who had no weekday sleep debt.

After six months, the link between weekday sleep debt and obesity and insulin resistance was even more apparent to researchers.

The study follows research by the University of Chicago, published in the journal Diabetologia, which looked at the association between sleep loss and diabetes. Chicago researchers learned that after just three nights of getting only four hours of sleep, blood levels of fatty acids stayed elevated instead of peaking and receding overnight as they should. That reduced the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars, which is characteristic of diabetes, according to researchers. Proper sleep is paramount to disease protection.

Furthermore, last December, a study published in The Journal of Pediatrics proved that a chronic lack of sleep and sleep-related breathing problems both double the risk of a child being obese before the age of 15. The same can bring about diabetes, too. Childhood obesity is now at about 17 percent in the United States. So it may be important for parents and physicians to spot sleep problems early. That way, corrective action can be taken, and obesity and diabetes can be prevented altogether.

But while previous studies showed that short sleep duration is behind obesity and diabetes, the Weill Cornell Medical College revealed that as little as 30 minutes of sleep debt each day can significant increase the likelihood of obesity and insulin resistance – and diabetes as a result. You want to clock between seven and nine hours each night. If you’re getting less than seven, you’re compromising your immune system and putting yourself at risk.

Lack of sleep is more common than you think

sleep-insomniaToday, sleep loss is commonplace in modern society. But the metabolic consequences have only been noticed this past decade. People often accumulate sleep debt during weekdays because of social and work commitments, among other things. The point is, that’s not OK for your health.



Sleep as preventive medicine

sleep-for-weight-lossIn the coming years, interventions specifically designed to fight metabolic disease will have to take into account sleep and other factors affecting metabolic function. As such, sleep hygiene and education will play an important part in future trials. That’s because people often miss out on sleep during the week and try to catch up on weekends.

So if you’re one of the growing numbers of sleep-deprived, remember to take all of the precautions you need to get a little more shuteye. Sleep tight!


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