The Link Between Sleep and Diabetes

Posted by Bianca Doran on May 20, 2015

The Link Between Sleep and Diabetes

Ah, a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, many Americans struggle to experience the benefits of a full night’s rest. Rather than just feeling grouchy and tired, lack of sleep may have more of a negative effect on your body than you might think. A new study conducted at the University of Chicago may have found a correlation between sleep loss and diabetes.

Insufficient Sleep

Esra Tasali, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, and her team conducted their tests on 19 healthy males between the ages of 18 and 30.  The participants had two different scenarios. The first scenario allowed the men to sleep for 8.5 hours over the course of four consecutive nights while being closely monitored. The other scenario only allowed sleep for 4.5 hours for four consecutive nights. The researchers conducted a blood glucose-tolerance test on each scenario.

The research concluded that not getting enough sleep can actually disrupt fat metabolism and ultimately decrease the insulin’s capability to regulate blood sugars. Previous studies have also found the link between insufficient sleep with weight gain and type two diabetes. Tasali states, “Experimental laboratory studies, like ours, help us unravel the mechanisms that may be responsible.”

The test results revealed that insufficient sleep resulted between a 15 to 30 percent increase in late night and early morning fatty acid levels and ultimately an increase in insulin resistance, a well-known characteristic of pre-diabetes. This type of insulin resistance that was seen in these healthy young men “resembled what we typically see in early stages of diabetes” said Josiane Broussard, PhD, a post-doctoral research scientist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute in Los Angeles.

The findings may also find a link between insufficient sleep and obesity.  Constant elevated fatty acid levels in the blood are usually seen in those who are obese, have type-two diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

This study proposed interesting questions for future research. The correlation between lack of sleep and diabetes and obesity may imply that insufficient sleep can actually disrupt fat metabolism. If more research can back this statement, a simple effort to achieve a full night’s sleep may prove extremely beneficial to our health.

The Benefits of Sleep

Rather than avoiding feeling sluggish and grouchy in the morning, make the effort to snooze a little longer. Health.com shows some of the other benefits to a full night’s rest:

  • Memory improvement: Memory consolidation happens during sleep, enabling you to learn better when you wake up! Consolidation can even spark creativity as well!
  • Quality of life: Though there is no direct correlation between sleep and living longer, sleeping better does allow you to live better.
  • Reduce Inflammation: Those who sleep less than 6 hours per night have an increased chance of having higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins. Inflammation is linked to many illnesses including: heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and even premature aging.
  • Better Performance: A Stanford University study showed how people, particularly athletes, can improve their performance by simply sleeping more. Sleeping also showed benefits within students and their school grades! Having a full night’s sleep enables children to pay more attention in their classes.
  • Maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress: Those who were more rested were able to loss more body fat. Those who sleep less are more likely to get hungry late at night and eat more than those who sleep early. Studies have also shown how sleep can alleviate stress and can positively affect our cardiovascular health.

TAGS: sleep loss diabetes obesity