Study finds that sleep duration raises the risk for diabetes

Study finds that sleep duration raises the risk for diabetes

December 2, 2007 10:17 AM

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.

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.

The AASM offers the following tips on how to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.
  • Get a full night’s sleep every night.
  • Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.
  • Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.
  • Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.
  • Get up at the same time every morning.

Source : American Academy of Sleep Medicine


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