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Research Results on Sleep and Diabetes

diabetes and sleep

Read more about the connection between sleep and diabetes (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Over the past year we have focused in on the link between diabetes and sleep to highlight new research aimed at helping increase our understanding of how the two are related.  Here is an aggregation of all these research findings that help explain how sleep affects diabetes and how important sleep is to preventing and managing the condition.

1.   Study Finds Link Between Sleep Apnea and Gestational Diabetes

A new study indicates that pregnant women with gestational diabetes may be at a higher risk for obstructive sleep apnea.  Since it is common for pregnant women to struggle with disrupted sleep during pregnancy, this finding may make it more likely that sleep apnea gets diagnosed and treated rather than overlooked as a typical side effect of pregnancy.

2.     Sleep Deprivation Affects Glucose Levels

Research has shown that when people go without sleep, it impacts how their body processes glucose.  According to the American Diabetes Association, prolonged sleep deprivation paired with interruptions in the circadian rhythm had a significant negative impact on resting metabolic rate.  In addition, the production of insulin during times of sleep disruption and deprivation was not adequate which caused a rise in glucose levels.

3.     Erratic Sleep Habits Impact Blood Sugar

A study published in the Science of Translational Medicine journal, showed that reducing sleep and following an erratic sleep schedule significantly impacted metabolism and blood sugar.  These findings indicate that people with sleep disorders and those who work off-hour shifts may be at a higher risk for obesity and diabetes even if they have no other risk factors

4.     Sleep Apnea and Diabetes

New research shows that sleep apnea can be a predictor for development of Type 2 diabetes.   This established the ways in which fragmented sleep fragmentation paired with the hypoxia caused by sleep apnea contributes to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and the development of diabetes.   Another study shows that those with sleep apnea are twice as likely to develop diabetes than those without the condition.

5.     Melatonin Levels Affect Diabetes Risk

A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that those with lower than average levels of melatonin may be at a higher risk for diabetes.  Melatonin is a sleep hormone that plays a role in managing our sleep wake cycle and those who do not get enough sleep or who suffer from sleep disorders may not have normal melatonin levels.  The sleep hormone plays a part in regulating our sleep wake cycle and our circadian rhythm.

6.     International Diabetes Foundation Maps Sleep Apnea Impacts

In a report published by The International Diabetes Foundation, the variety of ways in which sleep apnea impacts different bodily functions relating to diabetes is mapped out.  This mapping shows how both the sleep fragmentation and hypoxia caused by sleep apnea relates to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and the development of diabetes.

7.     Sleep Deprivation Causes Insulin Resistance

Researchers and sleep specialists agree that there is evidence that sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance, even temporarily.  A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that sleep deprivation may impact our fat cells ability to respond to insulin, even in those who do not have diabetes.


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