Poor eating habits are the obvious and overwhelming cause of diabetes. Now researchers are saying that lack of sleep can lead to the blood disorder.
This past spring, researchers found that people who get less than six hours of sleep each night are more likely to develop impaired fasting glucose, or pre-diabetes.
A more recent study of five men and six women varied their sleep time for 14-day periods. The subjects averaged 40 years old. And while they were all a little overweight, they were otherwise healthy. The participants stayed in a lab where their sleep, activity, diet, and blood chemistry were monitored.
During one period, they were allowed no more than 5.5 hours of sleep each day. When their sleeping time was shortened, the volunteers' blood sugar was higher on a glucose-tolerance test.
The researchers also restricted them from exercise, and made junk food available. Not surprisingly, they gained more than four pounds on average.
If confirmed by future larger studies, these results would indicate that a healthy lifestyle should include not only healthy eating habits and adequate amounts of physical activity, but also obtaining a sufficient amount of sleep, says University of Chicago researcher Plamen Penev, MD, PhD who led the study.