Sleep Deprivation Can Increase Risk of Diabetes
Sleep Deprivation Can Increase Risk of Diabetes

We all know how great a good night’s sleep makes us feel. We wake feeling energized, with a spring in our step and a twinkle in our eye.

Conversely, we all know how we suffer after a bad night of tossing and turning. We’re groggy, grumpy, dopey – and probably a lot of other words that sound like the names of the seven dwarves too!

One broken night of slumber every now and again isn’t going to do too much damage. Nothing a good night’s sleep can’t fix anyway. What fewer of us realize however is just how bad for our long-term health sleeping poorly every night can truly be.

In recent years thanks to advances in medical science we’ve begun to comprehend that sleep plays a staggeringly important role in how well almost every single function of your body and mind works.

Individuals who sleep badly have an increased chance of being anxious, stressed and even depressed. They suffer from more colds, flu and viruses due to an impaired immune system. They have an increased risk of strokes and cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure and heart disease. And they are a lot more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

It’s diabetes we are going to concentrate on today, considering just how prevalent the disease is becoming across the world and how many myths exist out there about the condition.

What is sleep deprivation?

First let’s take a moment to define sleep deprivation, as the statistics indicate many individuals who suffer from it are unlikely even to realise.

You’ve probably heard people, maybe your doctor, talk about the importance of ‘getting your eight hours a night’. Well, just like no fingerprint is the same, neither are our bodies. As a result, we all have different sleep requirements. Nobody is average. Some people require nine or ten hours, others just seven. Eight hours is generally just given as a rough guide.

What medical science does agree on, however, is that if you’re getting anything less than seven hours a night you’re doing your body no favors. Over time your health will begin to suffer as a consequence.

If you’re constantly sleeping less than seven hours a night, then sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you too are sleep deprived. Uh oh!

You’re not alone, a whopping 40% of Americans get less than seven hours sleep a night. Such is the extent of the problem that in 2014 the Centre for Disease Control actually took the measure of labeling sleep deprivation as a public health epidemic. Yikes!

Don’t worry, all is not lost, there are many super easy life hacks you can adopt to quickly improve your odds of getting a better night’s rest. In fact, the Sleep – Advisor has loads of tips you can check out.

Sleep deprivation and weight gain

What is the connection between sleep deprivation and diabetes? Well, you’re probably already aware that diabetes and being overweight are strongly correlated but what you may not realize is that sleep has a huge role in why people become overweight.

When it comes to living a healthy life people rightly, put a lot of importance on regular exercise and good diet, together these two are known as the pillars of good health. What is less widely known is that without the foundation of healthy sleep to build this two pillars on, no amount of star jumps and lettuce munching is going to keep you in good shape.

Sleep is when the body takes time out to regulate a whole host of neurotransmitters and hormones floating around our body. If your sleep is constantly broken then, these processes are interrupted and hormones imbalances can occur.

Two hormones related to weight gain are leptin and ghrelin, known respectively as the ‘obesity hormone’ and the ‘fat hormone’. These two control our hunger levels and the type of food we crave. When we sleep badly, imbalances in leptin and ghrelin levels mean we begin to not only crave more food, but the food we crave is the really bad for us, high in calories, junk variety.

The worse we sleep, the worse we eat and the less energy we have to do exercise. The result is weight gain and ultimately obesity. With an increase in weight comes and increased risk of diabetes.

Sleep deprivation and Insulin resistance

It’s been discovered that sleep-deprived fat cells suffer from something referred to as ‘metabolic grogginess’. Which in layman’s terms means when tired the body’s ability to use insulin properly is impaired.

If you know anything about diabetes the word insulin has probably peaked your interested. Insulin is the hormone that regulates how much of the food you eat is used for energy and how much should be stored for future use.

When insulin is doing its job, fat cells in the body remove fatty acids and lipids from the bloodstream and burn them as energy. Yay!

A sleep deprived body suffering from metabolic grogginess is less sensitive to the messages insulin sends – by up to 30% in some cases. This means fat cells fail to do their job properly and fatty acids and lipids that should be burned off as energy simply aren’t. Boo!

Instead this unburnt sugar and fat hang around in the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels artificially high before the body just stores them somewhere to get them out of the way, usually in your tissue. Thus making us fat.

What’s worse if the tissue the body chooses to store this waste fat in is your liver, you are again increasing your risk of diabetes.

The insulin resistance shown by individuals who sleep poorly has been likened to a pre-diabetic state. In the short term, sleep-deprivation may just mean an individual’s starts to put on a little weight, unfortunately, being overweight and especially being obese have been strongly linked to the development of full-blown insulin resistant diabetes.

Sleep and diabetes risk in children

Sleep is vitally important for you no matter your age. However the speed at which a young child’s body and mind develop means that their sleep is even more important. This has proven true for intellectual and social development, as well as for long-term health.

It’s especially true when it comes to the risk of developing of conditions such as diabetes that will have a very real impact on the rest of their young lives.

Such is the power of sleep, studies have shown that if a ten-year-old gets just nine hours rest a night instead of the recommended ten, then they will have a higher risk of raised blood glucose levels, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes in later life.

One missed hour of sleep a night really can make a huge difference to a child’s quality of life. Mom and dad, time to get even stricter about bedtimes I think!

Well, there you have it, getting more beauty sleep will not only make you happier and look better it will also keep you thinner and reduce the risk you will develop diabetes. Great, now you’ve all got the perfect excuse for hitting snooze the next time your alarm clock goes off! You’re welcome.

I'm NOT a doctor! I'm just passionate about health and healthy leaving. The information on this website, such as graphics, images, text and all other materials, is provided for reference and educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. The content is not intended to be complete or exhaustive or to apply to any specific individual's medical condition.