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Do you know the connection between diabetes and sleep? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

Do you know the connection between diabetes and sleep? (photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com)

The link between sleep and diabetes is just beginning to be explored but there is enough research at this point to say definitely that there is some kind of relationship.  Recent studies have shown that hormonal changes resulting from missing out on sleep impact the body’s ability to process glucose and that people with severe insomnia are more likely to have diabetes.  Although there is much more to learn, these and other findings make it clear that any diabetes management program should include a component related to managing sleep.  Here are some of links between sleep and diabetes.

1.     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.

2.     Sleep Deprivation Can Contribute to Insulin Resistance

According to a recent study, sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance, even temporarily by impacting the ability of our fat cells ability to respond to insulin.  The study showed that this is true even in those who do not have diabetes.  It only took 4 nights of lost sleep for the insulin response time of a healthy adult without diabetes to look like someone who does.  This small study firmly established a direct link between sleep deprivation and insulin resistance.

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.