A leading scientist is calling on people to get more sleep to help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other health complications.
The University of California’s Professor Matthew Walker believes a “catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic” is contributing to rates of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers.
Walker, director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science, who originates from Liverpool, is urging people to get eight hours of sleep every night to reduce sleep deprivation.
“No aspect of our biology is left unscathed by sleep deprivation,” Walker said in an interview with The Guardian. “It sinks down into every possible nook and cranny. And yet no one is doing anything about it. Things have to change: in the workplace and our communities, our homes and families.”
He blames governments and employers for not doing anything to help ensure people get the sleep they need to function properly and stay healthy and also suggested those who had a full night’s sleep were wrongly being labelled as lazy.
Walker added that the new digital culture was situating people when they should be dozing off leading to sleep deprivation, defined as less than seven hours every night.
“But when did you ever see an NHS poster urging sleep on people? When did a doctor prescribe, not sleeping pills, but sleep itself? It needs to be prioritised, even incentivised. Sleep loss costs the UK economy over £30 billion a year in lost revenue, or two per cent of GDP.
“Once you know that after just one night of only four or five hours’ sleep, your natural killer cells – the ones that attack the cancer cells that appear in your body every day – drop by 70 per cent, or that a lack of sleep is linked to cancer of the bowel, prostate and breast, or even just that the World Health Organization has classed any form of night-time shift work as a probable carcinoge, how could you do anything else?”
Earlier this year, scientists found that people who slept for five hours or less per night were 70 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes over a two-year period when compared to those who regularly slept for a total seven hours every night.

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