Short sleep times may contribute to the development of insulin resistance and reduced glucose tolerance, which in turn may elevate the risk of diabetes, concludes a new study.
The study will be published in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM).
Sleep curtailment is characterized by physical inactivity and overeating.
The new study examined whether reduced sleep duration itself may increase the risk of developing diabetes when combined with physical inactivity and overeating.
To reach the conclusion, researchers subjected a group of healthy middle-aged men and women to two controlled 14-day periods of sedentary living with free access to food and 5.5 or 8.5 hour bedtimes. When the subjects had their bedtimes decreased from 8.5 hours to 5.5 hours they showed changes in their response to two common sugar tests, which were similar to those seen in people with an increased risk of developing diabetes.
"Our findings raise the possibility that when the unhealthy aspects of the Westernized lifestyle are combined with reduced sleep duration, this might contribute to the increased risk of many overweight and sedentary individuals developing diabetes," said Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, of the University of Chicago and a senior author of the study.
"If confirmed by future larger studies, these results would indicate that a healthy lifestyle should include not only healthy eating habits and adequate amounts of physical activity, but also obtaining a sufficient amount of sleep," the expert added.