Daylight savings time has started in the US. In Europe, we are only springing forward come end of March. In a previous post, I’ve discussed about the adverse effects of sleep disturbances on TMs-the-connection/”>cardiovascular health. Women’s hearts seem to be especially susceptible. Lack of sleep has also been linked to increased risk for breast cancer and weight problems in women. This study presented at the American Heart Association’s 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention gives us one more reason to watch our sleeping habits.
“Short sleepers” seemed to have a 4.56 higher risk for diabetes than those who sleep longer. Short sleepers were people who sleep less than 6 hours a night during a working week. Their shorter than normal sleep duration seem to affect their blood sugar, leading to impaired fasting glucose. This abnormality in fasting glucose levels can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, appears most often in middle-aged adults. Adolescents and young adults, however, are developing type 2 diabetes at an alarming rate. It develops when the body makes relatively too much insulin and doesn’t efficiently use the insulin it makes (insulin resistance).
The study looked at more than 300 participants, monitored their sleeping habits and blood glucose levels, and followed them up for six years.
The participants were categorized by their daily sleep duration in a work week (Sunday to Thursday) as follows:
- short-sleepers (less than six hours, 25 participants),
- long-sleepers (more than eight hours, 24 participants) and
- mid-sleepers (six-to-eight-hour sleepers, 314 participants).
After adjusting for age, body mass index, glucose and insulin concentrations, heart rate, high blood pressure, family history of diabetes and symptoms of depression, the researchers found a significantly increased risk of developing impaired fasting glucose among short-sleepers compared to the mid-sleepers. Compared to the mid-sleepers, long-sleepers showed no association with impaired fasting glucose, the researchers report.
The mechanism behind the link between short sleep and abnormal fasting glucose is not clear, just as the importance of sleep on our health is poorly understood. The researchers, however, speculate that there might be a genetic basis for their findings but much bigger studies are warranted to confirm these results.