People who work during the night may face a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research .
The study, conducted by a team of Boston-based researchers, found that working just a single night shift can significantly impair glucose tolerance – a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes – and increase post-meal insulin levels.
The findings are based on analysis of 13 healthy, non-obese adults with no prior work shift-related health history, who were each randomly assigned to four days of either day shift duty or night shift work.
Peak blood glucose levels were 16% higher during one night of simulated shift work compared with one day of a simulated daytime work, indicating impaired glucose tolerance.
To assess serum glucose and insulin responses, both groups were given identical caloric diets at either 8 am (day work) or 8 pm (night work).
The researchers found that compared with day shift workers, insulin levels in those working at night were 40% to 50% higher at 80 minutes and 90 minutes after eating.
Lead author Christopher Morris, postdoctoral research fellow in the Medical Chronobiology Program of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Bosto, said: “These findings are important because they demonstrate, under highly-controlled lab conditions, that acute exposure to night work impairs glucose tolerance.
“Chronic impaired glucose tolerance is likely to lead to Type II diabetes.”
The findings were recently published in an online supplement of the journal SLEEP and presented at SLEEP 2013, the 27th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

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