New Study Finds Chronic Lack of Sleep Increases Insulin Resistance in Women, Especially Postmenopausal
A recent study conducted by researchers at a leading medical institution has found that chronic insufficient sleep can significantly increase insulin resistance in women. The findings highlight the crucial role of adequate sleep in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Previous research has established a link between sleep restriction and an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and disordered glucose metabolism, all of which contribute to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. This latest study specifically focused on women and aimed to determine if mild sleep restriction could lead to higher blood glucose and insulin levels.
The study involved 40 women aged 20-75, all of whom had healthy sleep patterns but were at an elevated risk for cardiometabolic disease. Participants wore a sensor on their wrists for two weeks to record their sleep patterns. They then underwent two six-week study phases: one with their normal sleep patterns and one with sleep restriction.
The researchers discovered that restricting sleep to 6.2 hours or less per night over six weeks increased insulin resistance by 14.8% in both pre- and postmenopausal women. The effects were more severe in postmenopausal women, with an increase of 20.1%. Pre-menopausal women showed a rise in fasting insulin levels, while both fasting insulin and fasting glucose increased in postmenopausal women.
These results suggest that prolonged insufficient sleep among individuals with prediabetes could accelerate the progression to type 2 diabetes. Importantly, the effects on insulin resistance were largely independent of changes in body weight. Once sleep duration returned to normal levels, the changes in insulin and glucose levels also reversed.
The study underscores the health effects of even minor sleep deficits in women of all stages of adulthood and ethnic backgrounds, emphasizing the importance of prioritizing adequate sleep. Further research is planned to understand how sleep deficiency affects metabolism in both men and women and explore potential sleep interventions for type 2 diabetes prevention.
The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, both part of the National Institutes of Health. These institutions are global leaders in research on heart, lung, and blood diseases, sleep disorders, and diabetes. The National Institutes of Health is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting medical research, investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
This groundbreaking study sheds light on the significant impact of sleep on women’s health and calls for increased awareness of the importance of adequate sleep in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. By prioritizing sleep, women can take a proactive approach to their health and well-being.
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