Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night could be key in reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. This was the result of a study published in Diabetes Care.
Previous research has shown sleep loss is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart problems.
But much of the research has focused on severe, short-term sleep restriction in men.
Researchers in the Diabetes Care study wanted to find out what effect being an “average” short sleeper, 6.2 hours per night, had on insulin resistance in women.
Insulin resistance is when your body’s cells don’t respond properly to the insulin the body makes.
The study involved 40 women of different ages who had healthy blood sugar levels and healthy sleep habits, but a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
Their insulin and glucose responses were tracked for two six-week periods – six weeks of adequate sleep and six weeks of sleeping 6.2 hours per night.
It was found getting less sleep for six weeks interfered with insulin and glucose levels. This was more pronounced in people who’ve gone through menopause.
The researchers hoped the study may provide an easy-to-achieve lifestyle change that could reduce the risk of developing pre diabetes and eventually type 2 diabetes.
Marie-Pierre St-Onge, senior author on the study and director of the Center of Excellence for Sleep and Circadian Research at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, said: “What we’re seeing is that more insulin is needed to normalise glucose levels in the women under conditions of sleep restriction, and even then, the insulin may not have been doing enough to counteract rising blood glucose levels of postmenopausal women.
“If that’s sustained over time, it is possible that prolonged insufficient sleep among individuals with pre diabetes could accelerate the progression to type 2 diabetes.”
The NHS says a healthy adult usually needs around seven to nine hours of sleep. But age, health and personal circumstances affect how much sleep a person needs – some people naturally sleep more than others.
For those who struggle to sleep, bedroom temperature is important. The Sleep Foundation advises: “You do not want your bedroom temperature to be a distraction by feeling too hot or too cold.
“The ideal temperature can vary based on the individual, but most research supports sleeping in a cooler room that is around 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit [around 18-20C].”