Trouble sleeping? You could be at risk of type 2 diabetes

Researchers from the University of South Australia are urging people to prioritize getting a good night’s sleep as the Christmas season gets underway because recent findings suggest that sleep problems may be linked to type 2 diabetes risk factors.

In the first study of its kind, researchers discovered that persons with sleep disorders were generally more likely to have poor cardiometabolic health, such as inflammatory markers, cholesterol, and body weight, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Nearly 1 million persons in Australia have type 2 diabetes. More than 422 million individuals around the world have type 2 diabetes.

Different facets of sleep are connected to diabetes risk factors, according to Dr Lisa Matricciani of the University of South Australia.

UniSA researcher Dr Lisa Matricciani said different aspects of sleep are associated with risk factors for diabetes.

“Everyone knows that sleep is important. But when we think about sleep, we mainly focus on how many hours of sleep we get, when we should also be looking at our sleep experience as a whole,” Dr Matricciani says.

“How soundly we sleep, when we go to bed and get up, and how regular our sleep habits are, maybe just as important as sleep duration,” she added.

“In this study, we examined the association of different aspects of sleep, and risk factors for diabetes, and found a connection between those who had troubled sleep and those who were at risk of type 2 diabetes.”

The study assessed more than 1000 Australian adults with a median age of 44.8 years. Researchers examined a range of sleep characteristics: self-report trouble sleeping, duration, timing, efficiency, and day-to-day sleep length variability.

“People who reported having trouble sleeping were also more likely to have a higher body mass index, as well as blood markers of cholesterol and inflammation,” Dr Matricciani says.

“When it comes down to the crunch, we know we must prioritize our sleep to help stay in good health. More research is needed, but as this study shows, it’s important to think about sleep as a whole, not just as one aspect.”

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