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Sleepless Nights? Learn Why This Puts You at Risk for Diabetes

It's Also About Quality

Have you ever had a full night's rest but still woke up feeling exhausted? You probably didn't get high-quality sleep, for one reason or another. Studies indicate that getting poor quality sleep increases the risk for type 2 diabetes. For instance, in one study, when researchers intentionally interfered with sleep quality by creating noises to disturb certain parts of the sleep cycle for three nights, people's glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity both decreased significantly.
Perhaps the most compelling "real-world" evidence is the very clear link between obstructive sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. Several studies show that sleep apnea, a condition that interferes with sleep quality, increases the risk for type 2 diabetes.
The fact that poor sleep increases the risk for type 2 diabetes might explain why getting too much sleep also increases the risk. Many people who get poor-quality sleep often sleep longer than average, as they're sleepier due to the lack of restful sleep.

Can It Be Fixed?

Does improving your sleep lower your risk for type 2 diabetes? The answer isn't as clear as you might think. Just because poor sleep increases the risk for diabetes doesn't necessarily mean than improving one's sleep lowers the risk. More studies are needed to see if improving sleep -- perhaps by using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for those with obstructive sleep apnea or by taking sleep medications for people with insomnia -- actually helps to lower the risk.

A Final Note About Self-Imposed Poor Sleep

Not all poor sleep is caused by insomnia, sleep apnea, or other medical conditions. Often, not getting enough sleep is simply a lifestyle choice. In modern society, we're busy people and our days are full. We work long hours, and then we play long hours. Something has to suffer, and it's often sleep.
If you are choosing to get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night, consider re-evaluating that habit. You just might be increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes if you continue. 
Type 2 Diabetes: Fact or Fiction

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