Those who do not get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night are between 2 and 3 times more likely to develop type-2 diabetes according to a recent study published in the journal Diabetes Care in March 2006.
The study, conducted by American researchers involved a group of 1,709 men from Boston, Massachusetts aged between 40 and 75. The participants were followed over an average of 15 years during which 90 cases of type-2 diabetes were diagnosed.
The researchers found that those individuals who got 7 hours of sleep a night were younger, better educated, less likely to smoke, and weighed less than individuals who slept for more than 8 or less than 6 hours a night.
Those who slept for 5 or less hours a night were found to be 2.59 times more likely to develop type-2 diabetes than those who slept for 7 hours a night. Those who got 6 hours or 8 hours of sleep a night were 1.91 times and 1.4 times more likely to develop diabetes respectively. Interestingly, those who slept for more than 8 hours a night were at the highest risk with a 3.69 fold increase in the probability of developing type-2 diabetes.
After adjusting the results for other factors such as waist circumference, smoking status, and education levels, the risk associated with long and short sleep duration decreased slightly but still remained significant. In the fully adjusted model, those who slept for 6 or less hours a night were two times more likely to develop type-2 diabetes and those who slept for more than 8 hours a night were three times more likely to develop the disease.
Short term sleep deprivation is known to reduce insulin secretion, glucose tolerance, and the function of the pancreas. Furthermore it appears that if sleep deprivation continues for an extended period of time, permanent impaired glucose tolerance and subsequently type-2 diabetes becomes increasingly likely.
Sleeping for very long or short periods of time is also known to reduce testosterone levels. Low testosterone levels are associated with several diabetes risk factors such as obesity and elevated blood glucose levels.
The findings back up the results of other studies that suggest between 7 and 8 hours of sleep is optimal for reducing the risk of type-2 diabetes.
The amount of time spent sleeping is steadily decreasing in the western world. Almost half of American adults get less than 7 hours sleep a night and a third get by on less than 6 hours sleep a night.
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