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Lack of sleep linked to diabetes

2nd January 2008

A lack of deep sleep could increase people’s risk of type two diabetes, researchers have warned.

Scientists at the University of Chicago found that suppression of deep sleep ? also known as slow-wave sleep ? in healthy young adults significantly decreases their ability to regulate blood-sugar levels and increases their risk of type two diabetes.

After three nights of selective slow-wave sleep suppression the volunteers became less sensitive to insulin.

Although they needed more insulin to dispose of the same amount of glucose, their insulin secretion did not increase to compensate.

This resulted in reduced glucose tolerance and increased risk for type two diabetes.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the researchers say the decrease in insulin sensitivity was comparable to that caused by gaining 20 to 30 pounds.

Dr Esra Tasali, the study’s lead author, commented: “These findings demonstrate a clear role for slow-wave sleep in maintaining normal glucose control.

“A profound decrease in slow-wave sleep had an immediate and significant adverse effect on insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.”

Dr Eve Cauter, senior author of the study, added: “Since reduced amounts of deep sleep are typical of aging and of common obesity-related sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnoea, these results suggest that strategies to improve sleep quality, as well as quantity, may help to prevent or delay the onset of type two diabetes in populations at risk.”

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