Women who reduce the amount of sleep they get by just 90 minutes bring about changes in the body that can put them at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, research has shown.

Researchers from Columbia University found that shortening sleep can increase insulin resistance in women, with the effect being even more prominent in women who are postmenopausal.

The team say it highlights how getting recommended amount of sleep every night could improve blood sugar control and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Experts say that between seven and nine hours of sleep a night is the ideal amount for optimal health.

This latest research shows that even a mild sleep deficit over a six-week period could raise the risk of type 2 diabetes. Prior studies have shown that the impact of poor sleep may affect women’s cardiometabolic health more than men’s, which led to this latest study which looked at women specifically.

The study involved 38 healthy woman who normally sleep for a minimum of seven hours a night. Eleven of the participants were postmenopausal.

They were tasked with maintaining their normal sleep duration for one six-week phase of the study, then shortening their sleep to around six hours a night for a further six weeks.

Their sleep duration was measured via wearable devices, with researchers also noting levsl of insulin, glucose and body fat.

Fasting insulin levels increased by 12% when sleep was shortened by 90 minutes a night over the six-week period. This figure was even higher – 15% – in premenopausal women.

Overall, insulin resistance rose by almost 15%, and more than 20% in premenopausal women.

Study leader Dr Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine, said: “Over a longer period of time, ongoing stress on insulin-producing cells could cause them to fail, eventually leading to type 2 diabetes.”

While increased abdominal fat can lead to insulin resistance, this latest study found that the impact of poor sleep on insulin resistance was not down to a growth in body fat.

Dr St-Onge said: “The fact that we saw these results independent of any changes in body fat, which is a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes, speaks to the impact of mild sleep reduction on insulin-producing cells and metabolism.

“The bottom line is that getting adequate sleep each night may lead to better blood sugar control and reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, especially among postmenopausal women.

“Throughout their lifespan, women face many changes in their sleep habits due to childbearing, child-rearing, and menopause. And more women than men have the perception they aren’t getting enough sleep.”

Read the full study in Diabetes Care.

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Top diabetes professor drafts risk assessment document for frontline COVID-19 staff

The health and wellbeing of frontline NHS staff has been prioritised among…

Type 2 diabetes found to be a ‘significant risk factor’ among stroke victims

More evidence has been published which supports that diabetes is a “significant…

Conversation about doctors’ appointments occurring virtually rumbles on

More than half of GP appointments are still being delivered remotely in…