The importance of sleep in diabetes prevention

It’s hard to get a decent amount of sleep when there are so many things going on around you. However, people who do not get enough rest have a higher risk of physical and mental health conditions. Among these is diabetes, which is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world. A study by researchers from Toho University Graduate School of Medicine and Juntendo Graduate School of Medicine showed that a single night of sleep deprivation can affect insulin resistance, which could contribute to the onset of diabetes.

In this study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, the team looked at the underlying mechanisms of sleep deprivation-induced increase in blood sugar levels. To do so, they used mice that were given unlimited access to high-calorie food and sugar water and limited exercise opportunities as animal models, which were divided into two groups. One group was deprived of six hours of sleep while the other was allowed to rest. Afterward, the researchers proceeded to determine glucose levels and hepatic conditions.

The scientists found that sleep-deprived mice had higher blood glucose levels and liver fat content than those in the other group. Moreover, they observed an increased production of metabolic enzymes by the liver. Overall, these results all point towards higher diabetes risk due to lack of sleep.

Although these results were based on a short-term study, they successfully show a relationship between sleep deprivation and glucose levels, proving that sleep is beneficial in diabetes prevention. For future studies, the researchers suggest looking at possible long-term effects and including humans in their studies. (Related: Working and eating at night increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to new study.)

Natural ways to improve sleep

To prevent diabetes, it’s important not just to get more hours of sleep but also to have better quality rest. Most people use sleeping pills to achieve this, but these medications have side effects like addiction, cancer, memory loss, and extended drowsiness. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to make sure that you get enough good quality sleep. Some of these methods include the following:

  • Following a sleeping schedule – When you sleep and wake up at the same time every day, you’re body will become programmed to follow this pattern. It might be a little difficult at first, especially on days when you’re not feeling tired, but after some time, your body will get used to the schedule and sleep will just come naturally.
  • Avoiding long afternoon naps – Many people take naps during the day to boost their energy. However, when your nap lasts for more than 30 minutes, it can confuse your body clock and make it harder for you to sleep at night.
  • Withdrawing from alcohol – Alcohol consumptions increases the risk of sleep apnea, a condition characterized by irregular or abrupt stops in breathing. This sleep disorder greatly affects the quality of sleep. Moreover, alcohol inhibits the production of melatonin and human growth hormone, which are necessary for the body clock to work.
  • Taking a nighttime bath or shower – Previous studies have shown that taking a bath or shower relaxes your body and helps you fall asleep faster and achieve a better quality of rest. If you’re not in the mood for these, you just soak your feet in warm water and it will do the same job.

Other risk factors of diabetes

Sleep deprivation is just one of the determinants of diabetes. Other risk factors include the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of exercise
  • Heart disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet

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