Sleep warning as new study finds diabetes link

By Staff

Lack of sleep raises the risk of diabetes – even for healthy eaters, warns a new study. Adults who sleep only three to five hours a day are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to the findings.

Scientists from Uppsala University in Sweden found that chronic sleep deprivation cannot be compensated for by healthy eating alone.
Lead researcher Professor Christian Benedict said: “I generally recommend prioritising sleep, although I understand it’s not always possible, especially as a parent of four teenagers.”

The study published in the journal JAMA Network Open, examined the link between type 2 diabetes and sleep deprivation. Type 2 diabetes affects the body’s ability to process sugar, glucose, hindering insulin absorption and resulting in high blood sugar levels.

A 2020 report showed that more than 462 million people suffer from the disease. Over time, it can cause serious damage, particularly to nerves and blood vessels, and represents an escalating public health problem globally.

Sleep researcher Diana Noga said: “Previous research has shown that repeated short daily rest increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, while healthy dietary habits such as regularly eating fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk. However, it has remained unclear whether people who sleep too little can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by eating healthily.”

The researchers looked at the health data of 247,867 adults in the UK Biobank – a database containing medical and lifestyle records of more than half a million people. They followed the participants for more than 10 years and found that a sleep duration of between three and five hours was linked to a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The study found that healthy eating habits lead to a lower risk of developing the disease. It is recommended that people need to eat healthily and maintain more than six hours a day of sleep to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Prof Benedict added: “Our results are the first to question whether a healthy diet can compensate for lack of sleep in terms of the risk of type 2 diabetes. They should not cause concern, but instead be seen as a reminder that sleep plays an important role in health.”

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