|Sleep and Blood Sugar|
December 31, 2007 online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center reported yesterday that interrupting sleep damages the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels, potentially raising the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The most common form of diabetes is Type 2 (previously called adult onset). In this type the body's cells no longer respond to insulin or not enough insulin is produced to regulate the sugar present in the blood. All together more than 18 million Americans have diabetes in some form.
In this experiment, researchers found that disrupting the deepest sleep periods of volunteers rapidly resulted in reduction in their ability to regulate blood-sugar levels.
The researchers studied the sleep patterns of nine volunteers, five men and four women, all of normal weight, in good health and aged 20 to 31.
Normal sleep is divided into several stages, with the so-called slow-wave sleep considered the deepest. Whenever the volunteers went into slow-wave sleep the researchers made noise - enough to disturb the sleep though not to fully awaken them. In just three days the ability of the volunteers to regulate blood sugar was reduced by 25%.
In previous studies lack of sleep was shown to reduce the ability to regulate sugar, and this report adds evidence that poor sleep quality is also a diabetes risk.
"Since reduced amounts of deep sleep are typical of aging and of common obesity-related sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, these results suggest that strategies to improve sleep quality, as well as quantity, may help to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in populations at risk," said co-author Dr. Eve Van Cauter.
This is particularly interesting as many people, especially older people, are proud of how little sleep they can get and still function. Of course this is with the aid of 'just 2 cups of coffee', or '3 cups of tea".
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