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Prevent Diabetes. Get Enough Sleep.

According to new research, losing sleep can lead to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, which increases your chances of developing diabetes.

If you’re worried that you may develop diabetes at some point in your life, you shouldn’t lose any sleep over it. In fact, that may be one of the worst things you could do when it comes to your likelihood of developing this disease.

According to new research, losing sleep can lead to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. This, as you may know, increases your chances of developing diabetes.

In this study, the researchers followed over a thousand men from the Boston area for 15 years. All of the men were between the ages of 40 and 70 and had not received a diabetes diagnosis when the study began. The researchers divided them into groups depending on the number of hours of sleep they reported getting each night (<5, 6, 7, 8, and >8). They used the group that got seven hours as a reference point, not only because they represented the average, but because they had the lowest risk of developing diabetes.

After the researchers adjusted for age, hypertension, smoking status, self-rated health status, education, and waist circumference, three groups of men stood out as having an elevated risk of developing diabetes. Two groups were those who slept six or fewer hours per night. Their risk was double that of the seven-hour group. But the more-than-eight-hour group was in trouble too. Their risk was actually triple that of the seven-hour group!

The findings of this study were consistent with another study that found that limiting sleep lowers glucose tolerance and increases insulin resistance. They’re also consistent with the findings of the Nurses’ Health Study, which focused on women. And there are many other studies that had similar findings. It’s easy to understand why not getting enough sleep causes diabetes because sleep deprivation is well known to affect blood sugar levels. But why in the world would sleeping too much do the same thing?

It’s because many people who sleep more than eight hours do that because the quality of their sleep is so poor. They may have apnea or another sleep disorder that prevents them from going into the deeper more restorative levels of sleep. And if that’s the case, many of them inevitably end up sleeping longer.

You should aim for a bare minimum of six hours of sleep a night. Obviously, the best outcome occurs with seven hours of sleep. If you sleep less than this on any kind of a regular basis you are likely putting your health at risk, as more issues than just diabetes are associated with unhealthy sleep habits. If your schedule or your habits are keeping you from your sleep, keep in mind that managing diabetes can be very time-consuming. You’ll have to find the time in your schedule to deal with the disease. You would be much better off finding that time now and using it for sleep.

By Frank Shallenberger, MD


Sleep Duration as a Risk Factor for the Development of Type 2 Diabetes