Losing weekday sleep could increase risk of type 2 diabetes

Mon, 16 Mar 2015
Losing 30 minutes of sleep a night during the week may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, a study finds.

This research was conducted by a team from the University of Bristol and Weill Cornell Medical College, Qatar. They measured the sleeping habits of 522 people to assess the difference in how long they slept on weeknights and at the weekend. This was known as a "sleep debt".

In the researchers’ study, which was funded by the Department of Health, they noted that shift-driven work was among the factors that made participants sleep more at weekends to catch up for lost weekday sleep.

When the body clock was thrown out of sync due to lost sleep, the natural rhythm of hormones was found to be disrupted. This can result in health problems such as insulin resistance and prediabetes, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Significant effects

After six months of poor sleep during weekdays, this link with obesity and insulin resistance was found to be "significant" by the researchers.

"We found that as little as 30 minutes a day sleep debt can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance," reported Prof Shahrad Taheri, from Weill Cornell Medical College.

This 30 minutes of sleep debt every weeknight was found to result in a 72 per cent increase in the risk of becoming obese and suffering related health problems.

"Sleep loss is widespread in modern society, but only in the last decade have we realised its metabolic consequences," added Prof Taheri.

"Our findings suggest that avoiding sleep debt could have positive benefits for waistlines and metabolism and that incorporating sleep into lifestyle interventions for weight loss and diabetes might improve their success."
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