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Adequate Sleep Helps Prevent Diabetes

Jun. 27, 2013|709 views
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The news is good or bad, depending on how much sleep you’re getting. New research presented earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, in San Francisco, indicates that getting too little sleep boosts your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. That’s clearly bad. But the study also showed that getting catch-up sleep after a sleep-deprived work week can help return things to normal. And that’s good. 

Working with male test subjects, researchers demonstrated that too little sleep affects the body’s ability to clear glucose from the bloodstream. In tired men, cells did not respond as well to insulin, which helps shepherd blood glucose molecules out of the bloodstream (where too much glucose can do harm) and into cells, where it is burned for energy. This reflects a growing state of insulin resistance, in which the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin. The pancreas responds to this declining response by cranking out more of the hormone. Eventually, it “burns out” and the person is at risk of becoming an insulin-dependent diabetic.

On average, test subjects got just 6.2 hours of sleep each night. Studies have repeatedly shown that most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep for optimal health. When the weary men were allowed to catch up on lost sleep by spending 10 hours in bed, their insulin sensitivity improved significantly. Researchers noted that about 26 million Americans presently have type 2 diabetes. Costs of this disease are estimated to be $174 billion each year. Previous studies have linked insomnia with higher insulin resistance and worse control of diabetes symptoms among people with diabetes. Studies have also shown that adequate sleep is crucial for body weight control.

Chaput JP, Tremblay A. Adequate sleep to improve the treatment of obesity. CMAJ. 2012 Dec 11;184(18):1975-6. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.120876. Epub 2012 Sep 17.

K. L. Knutson, E. Van Cauter, P. Zee, K. Liu, D. S. Lauderdale. Cross-Sectional Associations Between Measures of Sleep and Markers of Glucose Metabolism Among Subjects With and Without Diabetes: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Sleep Study. Diabetes Care, 2011; 34 (5): 1171 DOI: 10.2337/dc10-1962

Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) (2013, June 18). Getting enough sleep could help prevent type 2 diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 19, 2013, from­ /releases/2013/06/130618131848.htm


Tags:  prevention, chronic illness, stress