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Respiratory/Sleep

Less Sleep Equals Increased Type 2 Diabetes Risk

January 6, 2014

NEWCASTLE, UK – Evidence linking poor sleep to diabetes continues to mount. The latest research from the University of Newcastle shows that too little sleep is associated with a significant increase in risk of type 2 diabetes. According to a summary in diabetes.co.uk, the research process was a meta-study reviewing results from a number of different qualifying studies.

More than 200,000 adults over the age of 45 years were reviewed.Most participants (64.7%) reported normal sleep times of 7 or 8 hours. Participants that had 6 hours sleep or less experienced a 30% greater risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The study also showed that having either significantly shorter (under 7 hours) or longer (over 10 hours) sleep times was associated with higher rates of obesity.

Researchers took the time to switch around the numbers and check for negative effects of longer sleep times. “The researchers noted with interest that whilst shorter sleep times were associated with greater type 2 diabetes risk, longer sleep times were not,” writes a reporter from diabetest.co.uk. “Also of note was that sleep duration was not related to risk of cardiovascular disease.”

The results are statistically significant (212,388 participants to be exact) and the researchers view the results as appearing to be clinically important. In terms of limitations of the study, researchers were unable to ascertain how much short sleep duration may have been related to presence of a sleep disorder.

Is Sleep Good for Everything? Scientific American Poses the Question
Once again the consumer media has embraced the notion of better sleep for better health. The latest comes via a blog piece in Scientific American which asks the provocative question: Is sleep good for everything?

With new research coming out literally every week on various aspects of good sleep, blogger Gary Stix states that “the more sleep researchers look, the more the answer seems to be tending toward a resounding affirmative.”

Stix writes that there is a growing recognition that sleep appears to be involved in regulating basic metabolic processes and even in mental health. Stix relates that sleep researcher Robert Stickgold’s work (Harvard Medical School) has tied sleep to such varying health markers as memory, schizophrenia, depression, and diabetes.

One of the clearest messages, contends Stickgold, is that for every two hours humans spend awake during the day, the brain needs an hour offline to process the information it takes in and figure out what to save and what to dump and how to file and what it all means.

Stickgold concludes with the following advice: “If you drink two cups of coffee to get going in the morning, you don’t have enough sleep. If you sleep two hours later on weekends, you are not getting enough sleep. I think the amount varies from person to person. There isn’t an absolute amount. I tell people to turn off the alarm clock for a week and see what happens. If you discover you’re waking an hour and a half after you’re supposed to be at work, you’re probably not going to bed early enough. I still think eight hours looks like the best bet if I were to guess.”