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Link Found Between Sleep Duration And Diabetes
- Updated: November 5, 2015
The recently conducted Nurses’ Health Study discovered a link between a woman’s sleep duration and her risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For middle-aged and older women, increasing the hours they sleep over time seems to increase their risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to the results of the study. The study compiled data from 59,031 women. From the beginning of the study through 2012, 3,513 of the women developed type 2 diabetes.
In the study, the overall average sleep duration between 1986 and 2000 remained constant. About 49 percent of the participants reported 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night at both time points. About 15 percent slept 6 hours or less a night, and another 15 percent slept 9 or more hours. The sleep duration of each participant was self-reported.
About 7 percent reported increases in sleep duration of 2 or more hours between 1986 and 2000, while 5 percent reported decreases in sleep duration of the same amount. The results of the study showed that increases of 2 or more hours a day of sleep and consistent sleep duration of 6 hours a day or less both increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
The study showed that both decreases and increases in sleep duration raised diabetes risk. The women that reported increases or decreases had less physical activity, poorer diet quality, and higher body mass indexes (BMIs). They also had increased rates of smoking, snoring, antidepressant use, hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. However, after controlling for other factors, only increases in sleep duration remained significantly associated with diabetes risk.
The analysis was the largest ever to document the correlation between long-term changes in sleep duration, changes in energy balance, and risk of type 2 diabetes. The findings were published online by Elizabeth Cespedes, ScD, MSc, research postdoctoral fellow, at Kaiser Permanente division of research, Oakland, California, and her colleagues on November 2 in Diabetologia.
The reason why long or extended sleep duration might increase the risk of diabetes is not clear. Some researchers believe that long sleep is a symptom of an underlying sleep disorder, depression, or ill health, which would increase the risk of developing diabetes. Getting the proper amount of sleep each night is key to good health, a healthy weight, and preventing chronic ailments. However, increasing your sleep duration after years of deprivation may not be the answer.