How Sleep and Dietary Habits Affects Diabetes Risk - EMJ

The Effects of Sleep and Dietary Habits on Diabetes Risk

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SLEEP deprivation is associated with risk of Type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to recent research. The study, carried out by Christian Benedict, Uppsala University, Sweden, and team, showed that adults who sleep only 3–5 hours per day are at a higher risk of developing T2D than those who get more sleep. Additionally, their results showed that chronic sleep deprivation cannot be compensated by healthy eating alone.

Previous studies have demonstrated the link between T2D and sleep deprivation, while others have proven that healthy dietary habits can reduce the risk of diabetes. However, there has been little research into whether sleep deprived individuals can reduce their risk of T2D by eating healthily. In order to assess this relationship, the research team used data from the UK Biobank to analyse the sleeping and dietary habits of 247,867 adults (mean age: 55.9 years; 52.3% female). Participants were separated into four groups based on sleep duration: normal (7–8 hours per day), mild short (6 hours per day), moderate short (5 hours per day), and extreme short (3–4 hours per day). Dietary habits were evaluated based on population-specific consumption of various food types, resulting in a healthy diet score ranging from 0 (unhealthiest) to 5 (healthiest).

The results showed that sleep duration between 3–5 hours a day was linked to a higher risk of developing T2D, and healthy eating was associated with a lower risk (hazard ratio [HR]: 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.63–0.88); however, those who ate well but slept less than 6 hours a day were still at an increased risk of T2D. Individuals sleeping 5 hours a day exhibited a 1.16 adjusted HR (95% CI: 1.05–1.28), and individuals sleeping 3–4 hours per day exhibited a 1.41 adjusted HR (95% CI: 1.19–1.68), compared to those with normal sleep duration.

“Our results are the first to question whether a healthy diet can compensate for lack of sleep in terms of the risk of T2D,” commented Benedict, adding that this should not be cause for concern, but should “instead be seen as a reminder that sleep plays an important role in health.” The role of sleep deprivation also varies between individuals; however, the team concluded that generally, sleep deprivation is associated with a higher risk of T2D regardless of eating habits.

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