Sleep Disturbance Increases Risk for Diabetes

Another study shows that inadequate or disturbed sleep can increase the risk for Diabetes. We know that the advancing diabetes epidemic is due in large part to consumption of highly processed food and a lack of physical activity. Several studies in the last decade show that we must now add short sleep duration to the list of factors that can dramatically increase the risk of diabetes and other degenerative diseases.

Some of the more recent studies show that treating sleep disorders ? insomnia, sleep apnea, etc. ? can improve glucose metabolism and the control of Insulin Resistance and Diabetes.

A study is published in the December issue of the journal SLEEP illustrates this well. Columbia University?s James E. Gangwisch, PhD, looked at the relationship between sleep duration and the diagnosis of Diabetes over a 10-year period among nearly 9,000 subjects who were already participants in the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Ages ranged from 32 to 86 years.

Subjects who slept five or fewer hours or nine or more hours were far more likely to be diagnosed with Diabetes during the 10-year period than were those who slept seven to eight hours, even after adjusting for variables, including obesity, hypertension, physical activity, depression, alcohol consumption, ethnicity, education, marital status and age.

Dr. Gangwisch believes the effect of short sleep duration on Diabetes incidence may be due to its direct effect on body weight and hypertension. Earlier studies show sleep deprivation decreases glucose tolerance and decreases insulin sensitivity by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, raising nighttime cortisol levels and decreasing glucose utilization in the brain. With Insulin Resistance, the long term demand on the pancreas for insulin overproduction can lead to Type II Diabetes.

?If short sleep duration functions to increase insulin resistance and decrease glucose tolerance, then interventions that increases the amount and improves the quality of sleep could potentially serve as treatments and as primary preventative measures for diabetes,? said Dr. Gangwisch.
How LONG sleep duration contributes to Diabetes is unknown, although it may be that increased time in bed is compensation for poor sleep quality

At least 170 million people suffer from Diabetes worldwide. This number is expected to double by the year 2030.

Harvard Medical School?s Lawrence Epstein, MD, medical director of Sleep Health Centers and a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), said this study is one of several large studies showing that people who don?t get enough sleep have higher rates of Diabetes. He said, ?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. 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.?

Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night to feel alert and maintain good health. Adolescents need about 9 hours, school-age children 10-11, and pre-school children 11-13. For a good night?s sleep, the AASM recommends that we follow a consistent bedtime routine, establish a relaxing setting at bedtime, go to bed at the same time every night, get a full night?s sleep each night, avoid food, drink or medication that contains caffeine or any other stimulant, prior to bedtime, avoid alcohol prior to bedtime, do not go to bed hungry, do not eat a big meal before bedtime, avoid rigorous exercise within 6 hours of bedtime, keep the bedroom quiet, dark and a little cool, and get up at the same time every morning.

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