Findings of earlier studies suggest that sleeping patterns may influence the likelihood that a person would develop type 2 diabetes. Now, new research suggests that long naps during the day could be a warning sign that a person suffers from this blood sugar disease.
Individuals who suffer from diabetes are not able to naturally regulate their blood sugar levels. Left untreated, the condition can lead to nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, heart disease and even premature death.
Although the researchers did not prove a causal link between sleeping long hours during the day and type 2 diabetes, the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Tokyo in Japan, found that the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes is higher with naps that last an hour or longer than having short naps or not getting any sleep during the day.
For the study presented on Sept. 14 at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes meeting in Germany, Yamada Tomahide and colleagues looked at the data of 21 published studies involving more than 300,000 participants.
The researchers found that naps that last an hour or longer were linked to a 45 percent elevated chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Tomahide and colleagues also found that the risk for the lifestyle-related disease disappears with naps that last less than an hour.
Joel Zonszein, Clinical Diabetes Center director at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, offered some insights on the findings of the study. He explained that type 2 diabetes is associated with unhealthy lifestyle practices, and long naps could be a marker of such a lifestyle.
"Maybe longer naps are short periods of sleep and more common in those individuals with long working hours, stress all day, working more than one job, and maybe stress is associated with fast-food eating," Zonszein said.
Zonszein added that people who take short naps are likely to be less stressed and have more leisure, so the meta-analysis did not find a link between short naps and potential type 2 diabetes risk.
Metabolic medicine professor Naveed Sattar, from the University of Glasgow, noted that there is now a growing body of evidence that shows a link between sleep and type 2 diabetes. Sleep deprivation, for instance, may be caused by work or social life patterns that can increase appetite, which could raise the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Sattar also said that the risk factors that can lead to diabetes may also cause napping, which include slightly high sugar levels.