New Study Links Chronic Insufficient Sleep to Increased Insulin Resistance in Women
A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that chronic insufficient sleep can increase insulin resistance in otherwise healthy women, with more pronounced effects in postmenopausal women. Published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care, the study emphasizes the significance of adequate sleep in reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes.
It is well-known that women often report poorer sleep quality compared to men, making it crucial to understand how sleep disturbances can impact their overall health, especially postmenopausal women. Previous studies have shown that sleep restriction can elevate the risk for various conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and disordered glucose metabolism, ultimately leading to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
This new study aimed to determine if even a mild reduction of 1.5 hours of sleep per night could elevate blood glucose and insulin levels. The study included 40 women aged 20-75 with healthy sleep patterns and normal fasting glucose levels, but increased risks for cardiometabolic disease. Participants underwent two six-week study phases, one where they maintained their regular sleep patterns and one where sleep was limited. They recorded their sleep patterns using a sensor on their wrists and kept daily sleep logs.
The findings revealed that restricting sleep to 6.2 hours or less per night over six weeks increased insulin resistance by 14.8% among both pre- and postmenopausal women, with more severe effects observed in postmenopausal women (up to 20.1%). In premenopausal women, fasting insulin levels increased in response to sleep restriction, while fasting insulin and glucose levels tended to increase in postmenopausal women. The study also found that the effects on insulin resistance were largely independent of changes in body weight.
The researchers note that once the women resumed their regular 7-9 hours of sleep per night, their insulin and glucose levels returned to normal. This study highlights the health effects of even minor sleep deficits in women of various age groups and ethnic backgrounds.
The researchers plan to conduct further studies to explore how sleep deficiency affects metabolism in both men and women and to investigate the use of sleep interventions in preventing type 2 diabetes. These findings underscore the importance of prioritizing adequate sleep for women’s overall health and well-being, particularly in relation to their risk for developing type 2 diabetes.