Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Daytime Sleepiness: Is There a Link

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Type 2 DiabetesIf you’re regularly finding yourself in need of sleep during the day, or taking long naps in the afternoon, you might have an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Usually when you think of type 2 diabetes, you might be thinking of weight or diet not sleep. And, after all, isn’t sleep supposed to be healthy?

Well, yes and no. Getting a good night’s sleep is definitely part of a healthy lifestyle, and even short naps every day can help improve your quality of life. But if you’re napping too much or find yourself constantly sleepy throughout the day, this is cause for concern.

Study Finds Link between Sleepiness and Type 2 Diabetes

The association between excessive sleepiness and napping with type 2 diabetes was discovered by a team of Japanese researchers and presented at last year’s European Association for the Study of Disease meetings. Looking at studies from around the world, researchers from the University of Tokyo performed a meta-analysis on how sleep patterns may influence the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Naps Shown to Increase Likelihood of Diabetes

They found that people who reported excessive daytime sleepiness were 56% more likely to get type 2 diabetes while longer daytime naps lasting 60 minutes or more increased the risk by 46%. Shorter naps—up to 40 minutes—led to no risk increase for type 2 diabetes.

Shorter naps can be quite good for you. Keeping naps in the 20 to 40 minute range ensures you don’t enter deep, slow wave sleep that can cut into your nighttime sleep. These short naps can be refreshing and lead to improved focus and motor function, and greater alertness.

Longer naps and daytime sleepiness are likely the result of poor overnight sleeping caused by stress or medical conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

Pay Attention to Your Sleep Habits

Now, I would stop short of suggesting that daytime tiredness or long naps are an independent risk factor for type 2 diabetes. It’s more than likely the sleepiness is a result of poor sleep in the night, which is probably due to lifestyle factors that influence type 2 diabetes risks.

For example, the main risk factors for sleep apnea are being overweight, high blood pressure, and even diabetes itself. So it’s likely that whatever’s causing the sleep trouble is more than likely contributing to the risk for daytime fatigue and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, sleep apnea can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.

But this is something you should pay close attention to because people who do have obstructive sleep apnea may be completely unaware they have it.

So don’t ditch the naps totally…but if you have a hard time staying awake during the day or tend to go for long daytime snoozes, it’s time to bring it up to your doctor.