Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Close Banner
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

Chronic Short Sleep Can Increase Your Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes, Study Finds

Hannah Frye
Author:
March 20, 2024
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
Woman applying hand lotion in bed, evening
Image by Danil Nevsky / Stocksy
March 20, 2024

When most people think about reducing their diabetes risk, their minds go straight to diet. And while it's true that the foods you eat have a significant impact on your blood sugar, insulin control, and risk for Type 2 diabetes, they're not the only factor to pay attention to. New research shows that your sleep patterns can also influence your Type 2 diabetes risk—regardless of what's on your plate.

The link between lack of sleep and diabetes risk

A new study published in the journal Diabetes and Endocrinology found that people who clocked an average of five hours of sleep per night had a 16% higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Those who got between three and four hours had a 41% increased risk1

Researchers looked at data from 247,000 adults enrolled in the UK Biobank with an average age of 55. They placed participants into categories of normal sleep patterns (seven to eight hours per day), mild short (six hours per day), moderate short (five hours per day), and extremely short (three to four hours per day).

They then evaluated people's food choices such as their consumption of red meat, processed meat, fruits, vegetables, and fish, to give them a "healthy diet score" ranging from 0 (unhealthiest) to 5 (healthiest).

They found that those with the healthiest dietary patterns have a 25% reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Interestingly enough, though, individuals who followed a more nutritious diet still had a heightened risk of Type 2 diabetes if they consistently slept too little.

It's not totally clear why there is such a strong correlation between sleep and diabetes risk. Researchers suspect it could be caused by various mechanisms including impaired cellular insulin sensitivity, increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system, an altered gut microbiota composition, and more.

These findings shed light on two fundamental pillars of human health: getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet. They suggest that you can't simply swap out one for the other; both sleep and diet play crucial roles in maintaining health and are most powerful when combined.

Editor's note

While "normal" sleep and "healthy" diet scores are helpful measurements for research studies, they don't account for the nuances of day-to-day life. Especially for new parents, those working nightshift, or people without access to an abundance of whole and natural foods, meeting the criteria for optimal sleep or a healthy diet score can be difficult. It's important to treat yourself with grace and do the best you can.

Tips to sleep better

If you're clocking less than a full night's rest consistently and looking to make a change, there are plenty of things you can try. Here are a few ways to start getting better sleep: 

  • Optimize your sleep space: Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet can go a long way in improving your sleep quality.
  • Try magnesium supplements: Certain types of magnesium supplements have been shown to support high-quality rest without next-day drowsiness—here are our favorites.
  • Stick to a consistent bedtime: When it comes to sleep, consistency is key. Going to bed and waking up around the same time each day (when possible) will help regulate your natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Don't wait to ask for help: If you notice you just can't get consistently great sleep, be it quality or quantity, don't wait to ask your physician for help. While a few restless nights aren't the end of the world, sleep is a valuable asset to longevity and optimized well-being, so it's worth seeing a doctor if you aren't getting it.

The takeaway

As you may already know, diet can significantly impact your risk for a plethora of diseases, including Type 2 diabetes. New research shows that sleep may also be intimately tied to Type 2 diabetes. For those ready to make some bedtime adjustments, check out our Sleep School newsletter.

Watch Next

Enjoy some of our favorite clips from classes

Watch Next

Enjoy some of our favorite clips from classes

What Is Meditation?

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Light Watkins

Box Breathing

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Gwen Dittmar

What Breathwork Can Address

Mindfulness/Spirituality | Gwen Dittmar

The 8 Limbs of Yoga - What is Asana?

Yoga | Caley Alyssa

Two Standing Postures to Open Up Tight Hips

Yoga | Caley Alyssa

How Plants Can Optimize Athletic Performance

Nutrition | Rich Roll

What to Eat Before a Workout

Nutrition | Rich Roll

How Ayurveda Helps Us Navigate Modern Life

Nutrition | Sahara Rose

Messages About Love & Relationships

Love & Relationships | Esther Perel

Love Languages

Love & Relationships | Esther Perel

Related Videos (10)

What Is Meditation?

Box Breathing

What Breathwork Can Address

The 8 Limbs of Yoga - What is Asana?

Two Standing Postures to Open Up Tight Hips

How Plants Can Optimize Athletic Performance

What to Eat Before a Workout

How Ayurveda Helps Us Navigate Modern Life

Messages About Love & Relationships

Love Languages

Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.

More On This Topic

more Health
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.
Advertisement
This ad is displayed using third party content and we do not control its accessibility features.