In a new study released in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found that sleep duration is associated with insulin sensitivity and beta cell function (glucose tolerance) in healthy men.
While the researchers state the that evidence is circumstantial and that this study did not show cause and effect, recent studies have shown similar decreases. More than 29 million Americans have diabetes. During the last 50 years, the average self-reported sleep duration per person has decreased by 1.5 to 2 hours and the prevalence of diabetes has doubled in the same time period, according the this study’s primary author, Femke Rutters, PhD, of The Netherlands.
The research was conducted on 788 middle-aged European men and women. Their sleep was monitored using accelerometers and not self-reported. Insulin sensitivity and beta cell function was measured with hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp.
Interestingly, while other studies have shown differences in the effect of sleep on men and women, this was one of the first study to show opposite effects on men and women. The cause is unknown, but could be related to differences in:
- Sleep apnea: Men are more often effected than women, reducing their sleep quality and quantity (learn more about sleep apnea here).
- Slow wave sleep (SWS): Women have a larger percentage of slow-wave sleep per hour of sleep compared to men. SWS is considered the most restorative sleep and deprivation of SWS has been shown to result in insulin resistance and reduced glucose tolerance (learn more about sleep cycles here).
- Ciracadian rhythm: Circadian clocks determine the sleep-wake cycle and are related to metabolic rhythms, feeding cycles and other behaviors. Women are less prone to disturbance which may help prevent the effects of sleep deprivation.
We know that there is a link between sleep apnea and diabetes. In fact, the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea is 71% in patients with type 2 diabetes. This is significantly greater than the general population at 4-10%. Read our full post about the link between sleep apnea and diabetes here.
Do you or a loved one suffer from sleep loss or excessive daytime sleepiness? Take our sleepiness quiz and talk to your doctor about your sleep.
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