Losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep per day on weekdays can have long-term negative consequences for body weight and metabolism, according to a new study.
Weekday sleep deprivation may lead to long-term metabolic disruption and, in turn, increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, warn the authors of the study.
The researchers randomised 522 patients with newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetes into one of three groups – usual care, physical activity intervention, or diet and physical activity intervention.
Participants completed seven-day sleep diaries and calculated their weekday sleep debt.
“We found that as little as 30 minutes a day sleep debt can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance”
At baseline, compared with participants who had no weekday sleep debt, those who had weekday sleep debt were 72% more likely to be obese, and by the six-months, weekday sleep debt was significantly associated with obesity and insulin resistance.
At 12 months, for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt at baseline, the risk of obesity and insulin resistance was significantly increased by 17% and 39%, respectively, said the authors.
The researchers suggested that future interventions designed to slow progression, or reverse, the development of diabetes should also consider sleep as a factor.
Lead study author Professor Shahrad Taheri, from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, said: “This reinforces earlier observations that sleep loss is additive and can have metabolic consequences.
“While previous studies have shown that short sleep duration is associated with obesity and diabetes, we found that as little as 30 minutes a day sleep debt can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance at follow up,” he said.
He added: “Our findings suggest that avoiding ‘sleep debt’ could have positive benefits for waistlines and metabolism and that incorporating sleep into lifestyle interventions for weight loss and diabetes might improve their success.”
The study results were presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.