Too Little Sleep Increases Risk for Diabetes

Too Little Sleep Increases Risk for Diabetes

Sleep loss can lead to a variety of medical conditions.

Add another item to the list of health issues that can develop when the body doesn’t get enough sleep.  According to an article on, researchers from the University of Colorado say their new study shows that lack of sleep can increase the risk of diabetes also.

Previous studies have linked loss of sleep, or just not getting enough sleep, to a variety of health conditions, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, mood disorders, cognitive impairments, and accidents.

The study looked at a group of 16 healthy men and women, asking the participants to sleep for an average of five hours a night for five days, simulating a work week.  Then they asked the same group to sleep for nine hours a night for the same time period.

They divided the group in half, with one group sleeping five hours first, and the other group doing the nine hour sleep test first, and then reversed the groups.

Blood tests on the group that slept for five hours revealed they had a reduced sensitivity to insulin, and over a period of time, that could lead to a risk of diabetes.  Once they completed the nine-hour portion of the test, their oral insulin sensitivity returned to its normal state.

The researchers added that though the oral insulin sensitivity improved, there was not enough time to allow the intravenous insulin sensitivity to recover to the baseline level.

Co-author Robert Eckel, professor at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus said the team had earlier completed a study indicating that weight gain is caused by a lack of sleep, and this new study adds a risk of diabetes to the consequences as well.

He added we have a clock in our brain that controls our physiology and behavior, and it signals the body when it is time to sleep.  If we stay awake and eat, that activity may change the way the body responds to food intake, and disrupt insulin sensitivity.

The body will attempt to produce more insulin to moderate our blood sugar levels in such circumstances.  Short term, it would have minor consequences, but over time, the body may not be able to sustain the process.

The study, co-authored by Eckel and Kenneth Wright Jr, professor at University of Colorado-Boulder, was published in the journal Current Biology.

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