Much has been made about the relationship of sleep to insulin resistance. We know that even in the absence of other risk factors; sleep can impact the metabolism of sugar. In two studies published this year, we gain further insight into the problem. The first study published in the journal Sleep, 254 adolescents were followed. The authors found that when those getting less than seven hours of sleep increased their sleep to seven hours; there was a 9% improvement in insulin resistance. This was regardless of weight, race or waist circumference.
In a second study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, seven healthy volunteers spent four days sleeping no more than 4.5 hours; followed by 4 days with normal amounts of sleep. After the four nights of sleep deprivation, blood tests revealed that the participants’ overall insulin sensitivity was 16% lower, on average, than after the four nights of normal sleep. Moreover, their fat cells’ sensitivity to insulin dropped by 30% to levels typically seen in people who are obese or who have diabetes.
Both of these studies highlight the relationship of sleep to diabetes. In fact, many endocrinologists are now advising their diabetic and pre-diabetic patients to get a good night’s sleep; in addition to taking their medications and losing weight.
It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a very direct relationship between sleep and metabolic disorders. These studies serve to shed more light on this very important relationship.