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Monday, February 8, 2016

Sleep Problems Linked To Diabetes

By Dr. Shehzad Topiwala, MD, F.A.C.E. (USA) Consultant & Head, Dept of Endocrinology & Diabetes.

With more than 65 million people living with diabetes in India, it is clearly one of the top health priorities for us. No surprise that diabetes is also a common subject of discussion in newspapers, magazines, TV channels and even the social media. 

Development of diabetes:

Everyone has their own pet theory about why some people develop diabetes while others don’t. Indeed, the most important cause is obesity, but lean and thin individuals also have abnormal blood sugar levels in some cases. Many blame excessive food or the wrong type of food (too many carbohydrates and fewer green items). Some experts are convinced that regular exercise is the best way to avoid diabetes. Genetic and hereditary factors certainly account for several cases of diabetes. A complex interplay of two or more of the above factors leads to the development of diabetes in a given person.

According to a recent report in a scientific journal, even those who sleep poorly, or don’t get enough sleep, are prone to diabetes. The study conducted on more than 1.5 lakh women has revealed that women who sleep less than six hours each night, or have difficulty in going to sleep face a 22% to 45% higher risk of developing diabetes. 

Sleep deprivation and diabetes:

Researchers also “found the link between poor sleep and Type-2 diabetes was partly explained by associations with hypertension, body mass index (BMI), and depression.” This makes the situation a little easier to understand. Depression is often accompanied by what is known as “emotional eating”, particularly intermittent bouts of excessive consumption of food. This could obviously lead to significant weight gain and even severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher) with well established links to diabetes. 

What is even more interesting – the latest research shows that even those who keep waking up in the middle of the night, either due to sleep apnea (a common disorder in which the affected person momentarily stops breathing) or some other reason have a four-fold higher risk of diabetes than women without any sleeping problems. 

Sleep deprivation is increasingly being associated with a heightened risk of several medical conditions such as high blood pressure and overweight/obesity in addition to type 2 diabetes. 

It indicates the need to ensure we get 7 to 8 hours of sleep as adults. In a busy world, this is probably a luxury that few enjoy. However in light of studies like this and many more, we owe it to ourselves to sleep adequately in order to stave off the burden of diabetes and other chronic medical conditions that take a huge toll on human health.

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