More Evidence for Sleep/Diabetes Link


Sebastian Schmid, MD, Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Lubeck, Germany, led a comprehensive review of research related to sleep loss and its effect on metabolism. Researchers referred to an analysis of data from the Adult health and Behavior Project registry, with the investigation showing a “clear association between short sleep duration and an increased prevalence of the metabolic syndrome.”


Metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for various risk factors that raise the risk for heart disease and other health problems. The article published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology edition titled “The metabolic burden of sleep loss” points out that: “An increasing number of epidemiological studies show an association between short sleep duration, sleep disturbances, and circadian desynchronization of sleep with adverse metabolic traits, in particular obesity and type 2 diabetes.”


Furthermore, reports Lancet, “experimental studies point to distinct mechanisms by which insufficient sleep adversely affects metabolic health. Changes in the activity of neuroendocrine systems seem to be major mediators of the detrimental metabolic effects of insufficient sleep, through favoring neurobehavioral outcomes such as increased appetite, enhanced sensitivity to food stimuli, and, ultimately, a surplus in energy intake.”


Ultimately, the effect of curtailed sleep on physical activity and energy expenditure is less clear, but changes are unlikely to outweigh increases in food intake. Although long-term interventional studies proving a cause and effect association are still scarce, sleep loss seems to be “an appealing target for the prevention, and probably treatment, of metabolic disease.”


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