Researchers in the Netherlands have made a crucial discovery: how much you sleep can influence your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
And this link exists even if you don’t have any other lifestyle factors typically connected to diabetes, like poor diet or lack of exercise.
The team dug into data from the Maastricht Study, a large research project that originally aimed to understand why certain people develop chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
The Maastricht Study: A Treasure Trove of Data
Conducted from 2010 to 2018, the Maastricht Study had 10,000 volunteers go through various medical exams and tests. The study wanted to understand why some people get certain diseases while others don’t.
This broad focus made it a rich source of information for the new research team, who were looking specifically at how sleep habits could be linked to type 2 diabetes.
The researchers zeroed in on the data for 5,561 volunteers between the ages of 40 and 75.
To assess their sleep habits, the study relied on both questionnaires and high-tech thigh-attached devices that could track movement and provide a more accurate measure of sleep.
These volunteers were also frequently tested for their glucose levels, a key marker for diabetes.
Importantly, people with type 1 diabetes were not included in the study, focusing the results strictly on the relationship between sleep and type 2 diabetes.
The ‘U-shaped’ Relationship
What the researchers found was what they described as a “U-shaped relationship” between sleep duration and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Picture it like this: if you get either too little sleep (say, around five hours) or too much sleep (like 12 hours), your risk of developing type 2 diabetes goes up a bit.
This pattern held true even after accounting for other lifestyle factors that can contribute to diabetes, like diet and exercise.
This is big news, as it adds another piece to the puzzle of understanding how lifestyle choices can impact long-term health.
Many people are already aware that factors like diet and physical activity can influence your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Still, this study suggests that sleep—a factor often overlooked—plays a significant role too.
What Does This Mean for You?
Sleep is crucial for many aspects of health, from mental well-being to bodily functions, and now it seems it’s also essential for regulating blood sugar levels.
While further research is needed to explore this relationship in greater detail, the study highlights the importance of maintaining a balanced sleep schedule as a potential way to prevent or mitigate the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
So, if you are already following a healthy diet and exercising regularly but are skimping on sleep or oversleeping, it might be time to reconsider your sleep habits.
Finding that ‘just right’ amount of sleep could be another key step in reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes.
If you care about diabetes, please read studies about new way to detect diabetes-related blindness early, and eggs for breakfast may benefit people with diabetes.
If you care about blood sugar, please read studies about why blood sugar is high in the morning, and how to cook sweet potatoes without increasing blood sugar.
The research findings can be found in Sleep Health.
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