Sleeping less? You may become prone to diabetes!

Blood glucose test kit   Pic credit:
Blood glucose test kit      Pic credit:

Thinking of partying all night, catching up on a few hours of sleep and going back to work the next morning? You may become resistant to insulin and increase your risk of becoming a diabetic, according to a study published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

This study in healthy young men has provided further evidence that lack of sufficient sleep, which is now very common in our modern society, may adversely affect fatty acid metabolism that indirectly could increase the risk of getting diabetes. They found that sleep restriction elevated the levels of non-esterified (i.e. free) fatty acid (NEFA) levels, which reduces the ability of insulin to regulate sugar levels in the blood. Previous studies have shown a link between insulin resistance and sleep restriction, but this is the first time it has been linked with the 24 hours NEFA levels.

The researchers monitored 19 healthy male volunteers between ages 18-30 under controlled laboratory conditions for 4 consecutive nights of normal sleep (8.5 hours) and restricted sleep (4.5 hours). Both scenarios were spaced 4 weeks apart. They found that, under restricted sleep condition there was a 15 to 30 percent increase in late night and early morning fatty acid levels, which correlated with an increase in insulin resistance.

“Curtailed sleep produced marked changes in the secretion of growth hormone and levels of noradrenaline — which can increase circulating fatty acids,” the lead author of the paper Josiane Broussard said. “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.”

Thus, the authors conclude that these findings suggest a possible way to “discover whether achieving adequate sleep can improve metabolic outcomes and thus be a novel strategy to counteract the current epidemics of diabetes and obesity”.


The original publication can be accessed here.

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Aishwarya did her B tech, Industrial Biotechnology in Anna University, Chennai, India and received her PhD from Singapore MIT Alliance (SMA), Singapore. She is at present working as research fellow in Epidermal Gene regulation group in Institute of Medical Biology (IMB), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. She worked on developing a humanized mouse model for dengue during her PhD and currently working on studying the role of polyamines in embryonic stem cells and human skin pigmentation. She is passionate about communicating science to non-scientific audience, writing, teaching and photography.