Failing to sleep deeply for just three nights running has the same negative effect on the body's ability to manage insulin as gaining 20 to 30 pounds, diabetes researchers report.
In fact, young adults who do not get enough deep sleep may be increasing their risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a study published Dec. 31 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to the researchers, three nights of interrupted sleep effectively gave people in their 20s the glucose and insulin metabolisms of people three times their age.
Previous studies have demonstrated that not getting enough hours of sleep affects the body's ability to manage blood sugar levels and appetite, increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes. This current study provides the first evidence linking poor sleep quality—specifically the loss of deep or slow-wave sleep—to increased diabetes risk, said the University of Chicago Medical Center research team.
"These findings demonstrate a clear role for slow-wave sleep in maintaining normal glucose control," according to Dr. Esra Tasali, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "A profound decrease in slow-wave sleep had an immediate and significant adverse effect on insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance," Tasali said.
The researchers suggested that improving the quality of sleep, especially for people as they age or if they are obese, could be an important step in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.