27 April 2009
By Jenny Hope
A study has found that those who did not enjoy the optimum level of seven to eight hours sleep a night were two and a half times more likely to develop a blood sugar abnormality linked to type 2 diabetes.
Researchers who studied the habits of 276 volunteers over a six–year period said they did not know the cause.
The findings, published in the journal Sleep Medicine, suggest seven to eight hours’ sleep a night seems to be the ideal amount for adults to protect against common diseases and premature death.
Scientists say they do not know the cause, but previous studies have shown a link between sleep patterns and obesity, cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.
Obesity is known to be linked to diabetes, but the greater risk of diabetes due to sleeping habits remained even when obesity was taken into account.
Previous research suggests sleep loss could disturb the production of hormones that control the desire for calorie–rich foods, hunger and energy expenditure.
Researcher Angelo Tremblay said ‘This study is a continuation of our recent investigations having focused on the relationship between sleep duration and the risk of obesity.’
‘The greater risk towards diabetes that we document in our most recent paper remains significant even after a statistical adjustment for body mass index and waist circumference.’
‘With respect to clinical implications, it is clear that the recommendation to seek an optimal sleep duration seems to be appropriate but for some individuals, it is easier to say than to do.’
Other surveys have revealed fewer and fewer people are getting the right amount of sleep.
Around one third of the UK adult population regularly sleep five hours or fewer a night. The average night’s sleep is seven hours which research suggests is the ‘Healthiest’ amount.
It is possible the increased risk for long sleepers might be a symptom of impending health problems.