Sleeping less than 6 hours may increase your risk

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Without enough sleep, your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels can be disrupted. Maria Korneeva/Getty Images
  • A new study finds that sleeping less than 6 hours a night may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • If you don’t get enough sleep, the body’s ability to regulate glucose metabolism and appetite hormones is disrupted.
  • Type 2 diabetes is defined as a buildup in glucose levels when the body cannot respond effectively to insulin or is unable to produce enough.

People who sleep less than six hours a night are at significantly higher risk of type 2 diabetes than those who sleep seven to eight hours a night. a new study found. And even those who usually get little sleep and follow a healthy diet are at risk, suggesting that sleep is an essential component in preventing type 2 diabetes.

The study was published March 5 in JAMA Open Network.

The study followed almost 250,000 adults in the UK between May and September 2023. The average age of participants was 55.9 years and the group had varied eating habits ranging from “red meat, processed meat , fruits, vegetables and fish”, which gives a healthy diet score ranging from 0 (unhealthiest) to 5 (healthiest).

Type 2 diabetes is defined as a buildup in glucose levels when the body cannot respond effectively to insulin or is unable to produce enough. Treatment of type 2 diabetes most often involves careful monitoring of blood sugar levels and taking medications such as metformin or sulfonylureas. Additionally, diet, weight management and exercise are part of a broader approach to treating the disease.

According to Centers for Disaster Control and Preventionabout 38 million Americans (one in 10 on average) have diabetes, and up to 95% of them have type 2 diabetes. This condition can significantly increase the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

Dr. Nuha Ali El Sayed, senior vice president of healthcare improvement at the American Diabetes Association, who was not involved in the study, told Healthline that dysfunctional sleep habits have broad consequences on health.

“Sleep disorders are classified into long-term and short-term problems, each with different health implications,” El Sayed said. “Long-term disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome, lead to prolonged periods of insufficient or poor quality sleep and have been associated with a variety of health problems, including increased risk increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Short-term disruptions caused by factors such as stress or travel lead to temporary discomfort or fatigue with less impact on long-term health.

Melanie Murphy Richter, a registered dietitian nutritionist and director of communications for nutrition company Prolon, who was not involved in the study, told Healthline that without adequate and regular sleep, the body becomes more vulnerable to inflammation, stress, impaired glucose metabolism. and imbalances in appetite hormones.

“Our body works circadian rhythms in which all our organs, tissues and glands operate. When we disrupt these circadian patterns, our bodies become less sensitive to insulin, the hormone needed to draw glucose into our cells and use it for fuel. When a person is insulin resistant, the body’s insulin receptors become weaker and, as a result, more glucose floats freely in our blood, causing blood sugar imbalances,” Richter said.

Richter also explained that key hormones called ghrelin and leptin affect our appetite and can be affected by insufficient sleep.

“Ghrelin, which increases appetite, increases when we are sleep-deprived, likely due to evolutionary reasons that require energy to continue finding or hunting food,” Richter said. “This increased appetite leads to increased food intake, especially sugary or sugary foods, which can exacerbate blood sugar levels.”

Sleep disorders can occur at different times of life, for a variety of reasons, but the chronic nature of habitual short sleep duration was the main focus of the study. El Sayed explained that the extremes – not enough sleep (less than 6 hours) or too much sleep (more than 9 hours) – contribute to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Short sleep duration may contribute to insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, increased HbA1c levels (indicating poor long-term blood sugar control), “Obesity (a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes) and disruptions in hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism can lead to overeating and weight gain,” El Sayed said. “Conversely, long sleep duration may signal underlying health problems such as depression, sleep disorders or chronic illnesses, which are also risk factors for type 2 diabetes.”

“Although research has shown that even one night of poor sleep can have a negative impact on health, acute phases of sleep deprivation, such as in new parents, for example, do not always lead to the development of diseases like T2D,” Richter said. “Yes, the body will absolutely experience temporary disruptions in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, but the higher risk associated with T2D is more prevalent in people who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.”

Brief naps may lead to better energy and cognitive function during the day, but they don’t compensate for chronic, short sleep patterns, Richter said.

“Our bodies need a long period of sleep to actually do the deep repair work it needs to function properly. It can’t do it as effectively in short periods of time, like with a nap,” Richter said. “If you’re a new parent or in a phase of your life where you’re temporarily unable to get enough sleep, naps can help make up some of that sleep deficit to better support your energy levels, mood, and mood. brain health. But you can’t take naps to improve your health. Only regular, consistent, quality sleep every night can achieve this.

Chronically insufficient sleep – less than six hours per night – can lead to type 2 diabetes, even in people who follow a healthy diet.

Without adequate sleep, the body’s ability to regulate glucose metabolism and appetite hormones is disrupted.

Sleep also puts stress on the body and can lead to chronic inflammation, which in turn contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.

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