Sleep plays an important role in physical and mental health. A previous study has shown that women, specifically moms, are predisposed to sleep deprivation that leads to a range of health problems.

Women who reported to suffer from sleeping problems were found to have about 45 percent higher odds of developing type 2 diabetes. Problems that pose risk for the condition include trouble falling or staying asleep, not getting the required hours of sleep (at least six hours), frequent snoring, rotating shift work and sleep apnea.

In the study published in the journal Diabetologia, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed data from 133,000 healthy women who joined the Nurses' Health Study (NHS).

None of the participants had heart disease, cancer or diabetes at the beginning of the study. However, over 10 years of follow-up, more than 6,400 women developed type 2 diabetes. The researchers discovered that women who exhibited at least one sleep problem were 45 percent more likely to develop the condition.

"Sleeping difficulty was significantly associated with type 2 diabetes. This association was partially explained by associations with hypertension, BMI and depression symptoms, and was particularly strong when combined with other sleep disorders," the researchers said.

The study highlights the importance of sleep and how problems associated with it may lead to diabetes. This will help both physicians and patients prevent the emergence of this chronic disease that affects 9 percent of the global population in 2014.

According to the World Health Organization, diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012 and more than 80 percent of diabetes deaths occurred in low-and middle-income nations.

"Our findings highlight the importance of sleep disturbance in the development and prevention of type 2 diabetes," the researchers added.

Failing to follow a natural sleep pattern affects a physiological process in which hormones such as epinephrine, glucagon, cortisol and the growth hormone work together to control the body's blood sugar levels.  When these hormones are altered by lack of sleep or disruptions in the circadian rhythm, complications such as obesity and diabetes may arise.

Sleep deprivation has also been linked to an increased prevalance of hypertension. Activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which occurs during insomnia, predisposes one to developing high blood pressure.

In another recent study conducted on men, catching up on sleep during the weekends was found to reduce the risk of developing diabetes. 

Photo: Timothy Krause | Flickr

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