Sleep Role in Diabetes Risk: New Study Findings

Recent research demonstrates that a healthy sleep role, encompassing both duration and quality, is crucial for maintaining health and managing diabetes risk.

Sleep Role: A recent study indicated that getting only a few hours of sleep every day may put you at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes, which could be more detrimental than just making you feel drowsy at work.

The study, which was published in the journal JAMA Network, found that people who slept fewer than six hours a day were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life than those who slept seven to eight hours a day.

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“As healthy eating habits, like eating fruit and vegetables regularly, can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, previous research has shown that insufficient sleep on a daily basis increases the risk,” stated Dr. Diana Nôga, the study’s first author and a sleep researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden’s department of pharmaceutical biosciences.

Nôga continued, “Yet it is still unclear whether eating a healthy diet can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in people who sleep too little.” The writers think they are the first scholars to try to address that query.

The UK Biobank research, which has tracked the health outcomes of over 500,000 adults in the UK between the ages of 40 and 69 for at least ten years, included almost 247,900 participants, from which the study’s conclusions were drawn. Participants first responded to questionnaires regarding their eating patterns and the number of hours they slept—including naps—per day.

Eating two or more pieces of fruit every day, two or more servings of fish every week, or four or more tablespoons of vegetables per day were considered to be part of a healthy diet.

Eating no more than two portions of processed or unprocessed red meat per week was another requirement; in other words, a person might still be deemed to have a healthy diet if they consumed one serving of processed red meat and one serving of unprocessed red meat in the same week.

A score was assigned to each healthy eating habit, with zero representing the unhealthiest eating habits and five representing the healthiest eating habits.

Normal sleep duration was characterized as seven to eight hours per day; six hours was considered short, five hours as moderate, and three to four hours as “extremely short.”

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Researchers detected type 2 diabetes in 7,905 patients by the end of the 12.5-year follow-up period. The researchers discovered that those who had slept for fewer than six hours a day had almost double the risk of contracting the illness compared to those who had slept for a typical period.

The difference in risk between the six-hour sleepers and the usual sleepers for type 2 diabetes was not statistically significant. Furthermore, the effects of sleep deprivation on the risk of diabetes were not mitigated by diet, even for the healthiest eaters.

Sleep Role and Diabetes Risk

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Due to the study’s methodology, Dr. Naveed Sattar, a professor of cardiometabolic medicine at the department of cardiovascular and metabolic health at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, stated via email that the results support a correlation rather than a cause-and-effect relationship between diabetes and poor sleep.

The study states that the conclusions are also dependent on the individuals’ memories of their eating and sleeping patterns. “To establish a definitive causal link, it is essential to conduct randomized trials that focus on modifying sleep patterns to extend sleep duration, particularly to evaluate if this mitigates diabetes risk among high-risk individuals, such as those with pre-diabetes,” Sattar emphasized.

Nevertheless, Sattar continued, “There is now ample evidence that short sleep influences appetite regulation and leads to overconsumption of calories, perhaps more dense in nature.”

According to Wen, sleep has also been connected to the metabolism of glucose, which has a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

It can be challenging to get enough sleep, but you can improve your nightly routine by making some adjustments. To begin, create a calm, dark, and consistent space for sleeping and waking. A relaxing practice might help your brain prepare for sleep, such as reading a book or taking a warm bath or shower instead of browsing social media.

For a minimum of six hours before going to bed, stay away from coffee and alcohol. It can prevent you from entering deeper sleep stages during the night, even though it might help you fall asleep.


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