New study finds that sleep duration raises the risk for diabetes

Dec 01, 2007

The most common factors believed to contribute to diabetes are a decreased amount of physical activity and access to highly palatable processed foods. However, there is growing evidence that another aspect of our modern lifestyle, short sleep duration, is also contributing toward the “diabetes epidemic”, according to a study published in the December 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

The study, authored by James E. Gangwisch, PhD, of Columbia University in New York, explored the relationship between sleep duration and the diagnosis of diabetes over an eight-to-10-year follow-up period between 1982 and 1992 among 8,992 subjects who participated in the Epidemiologic Follow-Up Studies of the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The subjects’ ages ranged from 32 to 86 years.

According to the results, subjects who reported sleeping five or fewer hours and subjects who reported sleeping nine or more hours were significantly more likely to have incident diabetes over the follow-up period than were subjects who reported sleeping seven hours, even after adjusting for variables such as physical activity, depression, alcohol consumption, ethnicity, education, marital status, age, obesity and history of hypertension.

The effect of short sleep duration on diabetes incidence is likely to be related in part to the influence of short sleep duration upon body weight and hypertension, said Dr. Gangwisch. Experimental studies have shown sleep deprivation to decrease glucose tolerance and compromise insulin sensitivity by increasing sympathietic nervous system activity, raising evening cortisol levels and decreasing cerebral glucose utilization. The increased burden on the pancreas from insulin resistance can, over time, compromise â-cell function and lead to type two diabetes, warned Dr. Gangwisch.

“If short sleep duration functions to increase insulin resistance and decrease glucose tolerance, then interventions that increase the amount and improve the quality of sleep could potentially serve as treatments and as primary preventative measures for diabetes,” said Dr. Gangwisch.

It is unknown as to how long sleep duration contributes to diabetes, although increased time in bed to compensate for poor sleep quality is one possible explanation, noted Dr. Gangwisch.

Recent estimates show that at least 171 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and that, by the year 2030, this number is projected to double.

Lawrence Epstein, MD, medical director of Sleep HealthCenters, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and a member of the AASM board of directors, said that this study is one of several large studies that have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep have higher rates of diabetes.

“Restricting sleep to four hours a night for only a few days causes abnormal glucose metabolism, suggesting the mechanism for increased rates of diabetes in sleep deprived individuals,” said Dr. Epstein. “Additionally, sleep disorders that disrupt sleep, such as obstructive sleep apnea, also increase the likelihood of developing diabetes. Treating the sleep disorders improves glucose metabolism and diabetes control. These studies underscore the fact that sleep is integral to good health.”

On average, most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well-rested. Adolescents should sleep about nine hours a night, school-aged children between 10-11 hours a night and children in pre-school between 11-13 hours a night.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Explore further: Growing a blood vessel in a week

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Final pieces to the circadian clock puzzle found

Sep 14, 2014

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine have discovered how two genes – Period and Cryptochrome – keep the circadian clocks in all human cells in time and in proper rhythm with the 24-hour day, as well ...

Pets and anesthesia

Mar 21, 2014

Have you been avoiding getting your pet regular dental care? You're not alone. Most pet owners understand that in animals—just as in people—good oral health is conducive to overall well-being, says Gillian Fraser, V00, ...

Smart sleep analysis

Aug 02, 2013

Sleep disorders are a widespread problem. With the aid of smartwatches, researchers are analyzing sleep movement patterns and assisting doctors with diagnosis and therapy. Burnout and diabetes patients stand ...

Some course adjustments? Virtually guaranteed

Apr 23, 2013

The public health class got ready for its first lecture: Attending were the pharmacist from Pakistan, the psychologist from Brazil, the dietitian from Louisiana, the journalist from Los Angeles - and 4,500 other people. It's ...

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

Oct 24, 2014

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

Oct 24, 2014

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

earls
not rated yet Dec 01, 2007
I try to sleep at least 12 hours in 24. When I don't I'm all sorts of pissy. If it were up to me I'd want to sleep for years and wake up, because this day to day thing ain't doing it for me.
dfwrunner
not rated yet Dec 02, 2007
I used to need about 12. With a CPAP machine, it cut it back to 9 needed to feel sort of rested. Still I tend to only get about 7 so I still feel like crap.
NeilFarbstein
not rated yet Dec 02, 2007
I goinna take proivigil and quit sleeping altogther!!! I'll be up for the rest of my life!