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31-08-2011 | General practice | Article

Sleep deprivation, family history may increase diabetes risk


Free abstract

MedWire News: Sleep deprived young adults with a parental history of Type 2 diabetes have increased insulin resistance and compensatory hyperinsulinemia compared with longer sleepers, say researchers.

This is concerning, as it is "a pattern that has been associated with higher risk of developing diabetes in such susceptible individuals," write Plamen Penev (University of Chicago, Illinois, USA) and colleagues.

Experimental sleep deprivation has been linked to glucose dysregulation, but the effects of chronic lack of sleep on insulin sensitivity in individuals at risk for Type 2 diabetes is unclear.

Penev and team therefore investigated insulin sensitivity and secretion in relation to sleep patterns in 47 nondiabetic, healthy individuals, aged 26 years on average, with a family history of Type 2 diabetes.

The participants completed 13 days of sleep and physical activity monitoring while carrying out their normal routine using wrist actigraphy and waist accelerometry. They were also screened for sleep disorders using laboratory polysomnography.

A cut-off point of 6 hours/night was used to define whether people were habitually short sleepers or usual sleepers. Glucose metabolism in the 15 participants with the shortest habitual sleep duration (≤6 hours/night) was compared with that of the 15 participants with the longest habitual sleep duration (>6 hours/night).

As reported in the journal Diabetes Care, short sleepers had significantly increased insulin resistance compared with usual sleepers, at an insulin sensitivity index (ISI) score of 7.7 versus 11.4 (with decreased ISI corresponding to increased insulin resistance).

Compensatory hyperinsulinemia was therefore higher in the short sleep group compared with the usual sleep group, at levels of 44 versus 25 pmol/l.

"Future studies are needed to elucidate the link between habitual sleep curtailment as a behavioral risk factor for insulin resistance and increased metabolic morbidity in individuals with a familial predisposition for Type 2 diabetes," conclude Penev et al.

By Helen Albert

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