People who sleep less than six hours a night are nearly five times more likely than longer sleepers to develop a blood-sugar condition that could lead to diabetes, new U.S. research suggests.
Scientists at the University at Buffalo in New York found “short-sleeper” participants were at higher risk of developing impaired fasting glucose, which can precede Type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, and appears most often in middle-aged adults, although adolescents and young adults are developing it at an alarming rate.
Type 2 is the result of the body making too much insulin and not using it effectively, leading to insulin resistance. Insulin helps the body control blood sugar levels.
“This study supports growing evidence of the association of inadequate sleep with adverse health issues. Sleep should be assessed in the clinical setting as part of well-care visits throughout the life cycle,” lead author and research assistant professor Lisa Rafalson said in a news release.
The study was presented Wednesday at the American Heart Association’s 49th Annual Conference in Florida.
It is not the first study to point to sleep as a culprit in diabetes.
Lack of sleep poses other risks
Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center reported earlier this year that disrupting sleep damages the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, potentially raising the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Out of an original group of 1,455 participants, the team identified 91 whose fasting blood glucose levels of less than 100 milligrams per deciliter during initial exams in 1996-2001 had risen to between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL at followup exams in 2003-2004.
The 91 were then matched with 273 participants whose glucose levels were below 100 mg/dL during initial exams and at followup. Researchers also matched the groups according to gender, race/ethnicity and year of study enrolment.
After adjusting for age, body mass index, glucose and insulin concentrations, heart rate, high blood pressure, family history of diabetes and symptoms of depression, there was an increased risk of developing impaired fasting glucose among short-sleepers compared to the mid-sleepers — those who slept six to eight hours a night during the work week.