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Too Much Or Too Little Sleep May Increase Diabetes Risk In Men

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Irregular sleeping patterns have long been associated with higher chances of developing diabetes because of how they affect a person's insulin sensitivity and internal body clock.

Now, a new research reveals another link: having too much or too few hours of sleep has been found to increase a person's risk of diabetes. However, this only applies to men and not women.

Diabetes And Sleep Among Men And Women

During the last half-century, the average reported sleep duration for individuals has diminished by 1.5 to 2 hours, researchers in Amsterdam revealed. At the same time, diabetes prevalence has doubled in that period, they said.

Led by Femke Rutters of the VU Medical Center, the study involved almost 800 healthy adults from 14 European countries. Participants, who were aged 30 to 60 years old, were part of what was called the Insulin Sensitivity and Cardiovascular Disease (EGIR-RISC) study.

Investigators measured the sleep and physical activity of participants using a single-axis accelerometer, which tracks movement. In order to evaluate the risk for diabetes, researchers used a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp — a device that measures how effectively a person's body used the hormone insulin. This hormone processes sugar in the bloodstream.

In the end, Rutters and her colleagues found that compared to men who slept at least seven hours every night, those who slept the most or the least were likely to have a weakened ability to break down sugar, as well as had higher levels of blood sugar. This meant that they were at an elevated risk for diabetes.

On the other hand, compared to women who slept at an average amount of hours, women who had too much or too little sleep were more responsive to insulin, as well as enhanced function of beta cells that produced insulin in the pancreas. Researchers said this indicates that sleep problems may not contribute to women's risk of developing diabetes.

The study findings are the first to show the opposite effects of sleep deprivation on diabetes risk in women and men. Rutters and her team believe that this may be the result of the study participants comprising of healthy individuals, rather than people who were already at risk of developing diabetes.

Rutters said their findings show how important sleep is as a key aspect of health, because of how it affects glucose metabolism. She said even when a person is healthy, experiencing either sleep deprivation or over-sleeping can have detrimental effects.

Details of the report are published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Photo: Timothy Krause | Flickr

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