Diabetes And Sleep Disorders

Diabetics have a slightly higher incidence of insomnia. The interesting thing here is how short sleepers are more susceptible to diabetes. Short sleepers also tend to have lower than average glucose tolerance, even when they don't have diabetes. This has been shown in more than one study. Sleep disorders contribute to the development of Type 2 diabetes and diabetes contributes to the etiology of sleep disorders.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to produce enough insulin. A case study presented at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Society advocates that healthy young people who habitually got less than 6.5 hours of sleep a night had greater insulin resistance. Contrary to this people who got 7.5 to 8.5 hours of rest had a lesser insulin resistance. This is an issue of prime concern, as insulin resistance is the condition that often leads to Type 2 diabetes. Sleep deprivation leads to low-grade systemic inflammation which is similar to that diabetics have.

Diabetes symptoms include nocturia and neuropathic pain which can make it difficult to sleep.

Obesity and lack of exercise tends to aggravate the onset and severity of diabetes. Obesity can be prevented to a large extent if a person gets adequate sleep of more than 7 hours along with other precautions. People suffering from different types of sleep disorders experience fatigue and generally tend to remain dull and weak, as a result of which regular exercise becomes an impossibility. Slow-wave sleep has also been found to be important in maintenance of stable glucose levels. A University of Chicago study found that supressions of slow-wave sleep increases blood sugar levels, and the authors speculate that the decline in sleep quality in older adults may contribute to the increase in risk of diabetes.

Apnea increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients. Diabetics have apnea in greater rates than non-diabetics, although this may be due to comorbidity with obesity.

Studies and researches have also shown that people with a sleep-related breathing disorder face an increased risk of diabetes later in life. A link between obstructive sleep apnea and early signs of diabetes has also been established. Doctors have also found that half of apnea patients have symptoms of a diabetes-related metabolic disorder. Some claim that short-term sleep loss causes glucose intolerance and hence a pre-diabetic state. A recent study concluded short sleep duration is a risk factor for diabetes independent of confounding factors.

Short sleeping is a risk factor. The Massachusetts Male Aging study found men who sleep less than 6 hours per night were twice as likely to develop diabetes over the long run.  Long sleepers (over 8 hours per night) were three times as likely to get diabetes.

Scientists have also identified a genetic link between diabetes and circadian rhythm disorders. A gene involved in a melatonin receptor is also involved in higher blood sugar levels.

See also: dieting and sleep

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