In a prospective study of young, healthy military personnel, researchers have found sleep problems including; disturbed sleep, short sleep and sleep apnoea are linked to the onset of type 2 diabetes, independent of the cause of the sleep problems.
Researchers have reported the findings of this research as the first study to show sleep disturbances as an independent risk factor of type 2 diabetes rather than a side effect or mediating factor between mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and diabetes.
The research indicates there may be different causal pathways between sleep and diabetes compared to mental health disorders and diabetes. However, this present research study was an observation study so the exact biological or physiological or psychological markers directing the relationship still need to be established.
The researchers examined data from 47,093 members of the US military service who had participated in a Millennium Cohort Study running between 2001 and 2003.
During the study, participants were asked how many hours of sleep they had on average per night, they were also asked how easily they could get to sleep and whether they have ever been diagnosed with sleep apnoea.
It was reported that on average the participants for the study were younger and healthier than the typical population that would have been assessed for their risk of developing diabetes.
Despite this, the researchers found that having sleep apnoea or sleeping for less than five hours per night increased the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.
The paper was published online on the 8th of July in Diabetes Care.

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