New research led by Megu Y. Baden, M.D., at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, looked at the association of sleeping patterns and the probability of developing type 2 diabetes in the future and found that maintaining consistency in sleeping can effectively cut down the risk of the disease.
Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the body’s production of insulin, a hormone essential for the breakdown of sugar, does not meet the required limit or the body cannot use the hormone.
People who are diagnosed with diabetes type 2 or which is also known as non-insulin-dependent face the latter issue and form the majority of the diabetic cases.
According to the statistics from the World Health Organization, the number of cases of diabetes has increased from one hundred and eight million to four hundred and twenty-two million from the year 1980 to 2014.
Consequently, diabetes was the direct cause of around 1.6 deaths in 2016 and for over two million deaths due to diabetes-related complications. Regardless of the increased awareness and initiative programs about the issue, the disease is becoming more and more common.
While type 1 diabetes is also more prevalent, it is type 2 diabetes that is causing more concern amongst the health experts.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over thirty million people in the US alone live with diabetes which is around 10.5 percent of the total population.
Secondly, 21.4 percent of people with diabetes are not diagnosed which means that the cases may even more than those reported in the statistics.
In the coming decade, the number of cases around the world is expected to triple. Therefore, there is ongoing research regarding the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Whereas diabetes type 1 typically cannot be prevented, the development of type 2 diabetes can be controlled and stopped by changing lifestyle habits and diet.
The new study, whose findings appear in the journal Diabetes Care, now shows that consistent sleep may also play a fundamental role.
To reach this conclusion, the researchers looked at data of 60,068 women between the ages of twenty to forty-five which was sourced from the Nurses’ Health Study II. There were also regular follow-ups for 7.8 years.
During the study period, around one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven women developed type 2 diabetes.
After assessing the data and sleeping patterns, it was discovered that inconsistent and fewer hours of sleep were associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The participants with the lowest risk of developing diabetes were the ones who slept for seven to eight hours consistently while those with five or fewer hours of sleep were at the highest risk.
In addition, an increase in hours was also linked to a reduced risk of developing diabetes whereas a decrease elevated the risk.
The results remained the same after adjusting other possible confounding factors and contributors including Body Mass Index, history of diseases, and general health.
These findings accentuate not only how sleep affects the risk of type 2 diabetes but also the significance of sleeping patterns overall.
The researchers concluded the paper by stating “Our findings underscore that maintaining a consistent pattern of the recommended daily seven to eight hours of sleep is beneficial for the prevention of type 2 diabetes,”
However, people who are at high risk for having type 2 diabetes should also note that consultation with a medical professional is also fundamental along with maintaining a balanced diet and incorporating exercise into the daily routines.
Adding such preventive measures along with seven to eight hours of sleep can then significantly cut down the risk of developing diabetes.