23 April 2012

Sleep deficiency may increase diabetes risk

Night workers and frequent fliers may be at increased risk of diabetes, according to a US study.
Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital said too little sleep and erratic sleep easily upset a person's circadian rhythm, or ''biological clock,'' impairing insulin secretion by the pancreas and resulting in a build-up of sugar in the blood. High blood sugar levels can trigger diabetes.
Participants in the study also had a decreased resting metabolic rate, which is conducive to obesity.

The research team, led by neuroscientist and sleep researcher Orfeu Buxton, observed the 21 participants for nearly six weeks in the hospital. They regulated when and for how long the participants slept, and also what they ate. In the beginning, the researchers allowed their subjects to sleep for about 10 hours per night. Then they restricted sleep to 5.6 hours per 24-hour period, at different times of night and day, for three weeks.
Sleep deficiency and ''circadian disruption'' decreased participants' resting metabolic rate, meaning their bodies burned fewer calories than usual when they were inactive. In fact, the rate fell to a degree corresponding to a weight gain of nearly six kilograms in the space of a year, the researchers said.
The researchers also found increased glucose concentrations in participants' blood after meals, which they said was likely due to inadequate pancreatic insulin secretion. In some case, concentrations reached pre-diabetes levels.
The abnormalities disappeared after the participants were allowed to sleep normally again for nine days in the last phase of the study, the researchers reported. They said results of their study, which was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, corroborated earlier studies that had shown night workers to be at heightened risk of diabetes.
''The evidence is clear that getting enough sleep is important for health and that sleep should be at night for best effect,'' Buxton said in a statement.




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