Not getting enough sleep impairs fat metabolism and disrupts the ability of insulin to stabilize blood glucose levels, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
The study, published in Diabetologia, is one of a number of recent studies to examine the effects of poor sleep on metabolism, and the subsequent increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
On Tuesday, Diabetes.co.uk reported on a study that found restricting sleep triggered the development of systemic oxidative stress, which is a major factor in the development of metabolic diseases such as a type 2diabetes and obesity.
The researchers found 19 men between the ages of 18 and 30 to participate in the study. For four nights, they had an average of 7.8 hours sleep each. Over the next four nights, they only had 4.3. During both periods, their sleep was monitored, their diets were controlled, and blood samples were collected often.
The researchers found that, during the period of restricted sleep, the participants had between a 15 and 30 per cent increase in levels of fatty acid levels late at night and in the morning. At the same time, they had higher levels of insulin resistance for nearly five hours after they woke up.
Glucose levels were no different when sleep was restricted. Insulin, however, proved less capable of regulating blood glucose levels, by around 23 per cent, indicating insulin resistance, a major factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Josiane Broussard, PhD, lead author of the study, said: "It definitely looks like a packaged deal. Curtailed sleep produced marked changes in the secretion of growth hormone and levels of noradrenaline - which can increase circulating fatty acids.
"The result was a significant loss of the benefits of insulin. This crucial hormone was less able to do its job. Insulin action in these healthy young men resembled what we typically see in early stages of diabetes."
The authors concluded that the study shows "potential mechanisms by which sleep restriction may be associated with insulin resistance and increased type 2 diabetes risk."
The study clearly demonstrates the vital importance of sleep. Healthcare, the authors suggest, does not place enough emphasis on it. Perhaps integrating sleep questions and monitoring the sleep of type 2 diabetes patients could lead to progression in type 2 treatment.