WOMEN who sleep less than seven hours a night are risking a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, a study claims.
US scientists found that losing out on just 90 minutes sleep each night, and therefore not getting enough shut-eye, increases insulin resistance in women.
This is when your body’s cells don’t respond properly to the insulin that your body makes, a hormone that regulates sugar in the blood, otherwise known as glucose.
The effects were stronger in those who have been through menopause.
Lead author, Professor Marie-Pierre St-Onge from Columbia University said: "Throughout their lifespan, women face many changes in their sleep habits due to childbearing, child-rearing, and menopause.
"And more women than men have the perception they aren’t getting enough sleep
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"Over a longer period of time, ongoing stress on insulin-producing cells could cause them to fail, eventually leading to type 2 diabetes."
The findings are the first to show that a mild sleep deficit for just six weeks causes changes in the body that raise the risk of developing the condition.
More than 5million Brits are thought to be living with diabetes, with cases doubling in the last 15 years.
It happens when the body does not use insulin properly or does not make it, leaving glucose to build in the blood at dangerous levels.
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It can be deadly or cause organ damage if left untreated, yet many people go for years not knowing they have the condition.
Previous studies found brief periods of total sleep deprivation can impair the body's ability to break down sugar.
The latest study, published in Diabetes Care, looked at the effects of the more common experience of being mildly sleep-deprived over a longer period of time.
Diabetes symptoms + when to see a GP
DIABETES is a condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.
You should visit a GP as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes, which include:
- feeling very thirsty
- peeing more frequently than usual, particularly at night
- feeling very tired
- weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
- itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
- blurred vision
Type 1 diabetes can develop very quickly over weeks or days and it's more common that it will cause weight loss than type 2.
Many people have type 2 diabetes for years without realising it because the early symptoms tend to be general, or there are no symptoms at all.
Researchers studied 38 healthy women, including 11 postmenopausal women, who routinely slept at least seven and a half hours each night.
Participants were then required to shorten their night's sleep to around six hours for six weeks, pushing back their bedtime by 90 minutes but keeping their wake-up time the same.
The NHS recommends the average adult gets between least seven-nine hours a night.
The women were monitored with wearable devices and the researchers measured their insulin, glucose, and body fat.
The study found that cutting sleep increased fasting insulin levels by over 12 per cent overall and by more than 15 per cent among premenopausal women.
Insulin resistance increased by nearly 15 per cent overall and by more than 20 per cent among postmenopausal women.
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Dr Marie-Pierre added: "The fact that we saw these results independent of any changes in body fat, which is a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes, speaks to the impact of mild sleep reduction on insulin-producing cells and metabolism."
More research is needed to determine whether getting more sleep can help improve blood sugar levels and reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, she said.
Top tips to fall asleep faster
A PSYCHOLOGIST has revealed her five top tips to switch off the brain and fall asleep faster.
Brits are often sleep-deprived – but will do anything but put their sleep first.
Unfortunately, a good night’s sleep isn’t as simple as hitting the hay at a decent time.
Without relaxing first, you could find yourself up for hours, unable to nodd off.
Dr Naomi, a psychologist and nutritionist, gives her best tips for avoiding this:
1. Put the phone down at 8pm
2. Do things that make you feel good eg. bubble bath, a face mask
3. Make your room a sanctuary
4. Read a book instead of scrolling on your phone
5. Try doing 15 minutes of meditation before bed (find a video on YouTube)
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