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Does lack of sleep lead to diabetes?

A new study from the University of Chicago now hints at that possibility. The researchers took 13 volunteers that were chronically short of sleep, averaging less than 6.5 hours per night. This group was compared to a group of 14 that got 7.5 hours nightly.

All volunteers wore a wrist device that monitored nighttime movement for eight nights. Movement has been shown to be a good indicator of sleep. All volunteers also kept a sleep diary. On the last night, each participant set aside a saliva sample, slept through the night, and then skipped breakfast.

Each was then tested to see how well their body could process sugar. The group that got the least sleep needed to produce 50 percent more insulin to metabolize the glucose. This indicates that the cells were about 60 percent as efficient in utilizing insulin as normal cells, and even though these people averaged only 28 years of age they had an insulin profile of a 61-year-old.
Further tests showed that the saliva of the short- sleepers contained excess cortisol, a stress hormone. This may lead to a way to explain why lack of sleep lowers insulin efficiency.

A lot more study needs to be done to know if lack of sleep is a factor in diabetes. It could be that the high cortisol stress hormones were due to other stress and what lead to the chronic loss of sleep. But this will be an interesting research to follow.

If you remember in the June 2001 Turtle Digest there was some research that indicated eating high glycemic food drives your body toward type two diabetes. Don’t let this confuse you, therefor, don’t make the mistake of thinking that there is only one cause for a problem. It just could be that a high glycemic diet plus a lack of sleep could put so much strain on the body that there is permanent cell damage and diabetes.

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copyright 2005 O.Frank