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18-10-2012 | Psychology | Article

Sleep disturbances trigger autoimmune diabetes in men


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medwireNews: Psychosocial factors, including sleep disturbance, increase the risk for autoimmune diabetes in adults, research indicates.

Results from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study show that sleep disturbances and low psychologic wellbeing together were associated with over an 80% increase in the risk for autoimmune diabetes.

Sleep disturbances were primarily associated with the development of autoimmune diabetes in men, while low wellbeing was the most common factor for women.

Lisa Olsson (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden) and colleagues suggest that these factors may influence the risk for autoimmune diabetes through mechanisms related to insulin resistance, after finding stronger associations in patients with high C-peptide and homeostasis model assessment levels.

"This supports the notion that autoimmune diabetes with adult onset has an aetiology that in some respects is similar to that of type 2 diabetes," they write in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.

Autoimmune activity, on the other hand, was not associated with sleep disturbances and low wellbeing.

The study involved 53,394 individuals, with a mean follow-up time of 15.3 years. In all, 138 individuals developed autoimmune diabetes as adults and 1895 Type 2 diabetes.

After taking into account age, gender, body mass index, physical activity, smoking, and education, men with sleep disturbances, defined as problems with initiating sleep and/or maintaining sleep often or almost every night, were 83% more likely to develop autoimmune disorders than men without such problems.

Meanwhile, women with low psychologic wellbeing, based on a total score for feelings of nervousness, calmness, cheerfulness, and vitality, were 2.59 times more likely to develop autoimmune diabetes than women with good psychologic wellbeing. This association was not seen in men, however.

The researchers note that the findings were the same when autoimmune diabetes was restricted to latent autoimmune diabetes with adult onset, and that sleep disturbances and low psychologic wellbeing were similarly associated with an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Lucy Piper, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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