Limiting sleep to just four hours a day may cause resistance to insulin and could be an underlying cause of diabetes, according to research in The Netherlands.
Nine healthy people were examined: once after sleeping for eight hours and once after having four hours’ sleep. The insulin level of each participant was measured after each sleep and scientists found that fewer hours of sleep reduced the body’s insulin sensitivity.
Resistance to insulin happens when the hormone cannot regulate glucose blood-sugar as efficiently, causing a person’s blood-sugar levels to increase and symptoms of diabetes to develop.
Research leader Dr Esther Donga, based in Leiden University Medical Centre, said: “Sleep duration has shortened considerably in Western societies in the past decade and simultaneously there has been an increase in the prevalence of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The co-occurring rises in shortened sleep and diabetes prevalence may not be a coincidence. Our findings show a short night of sleep has more profound effects on metabolic regulation than previously appreciated.”
The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.