Sleeping Too Much (or too little) May Increase Risk of Diabetes in Older Women

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sleep and diabetesAccording to a new study published in the journal Diabetologia, middle-aged or older women who sleep six hours or less each night, or who add two hours or more of sleep each night, have a 15% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Previous research suggests that those who sleep too little or too much, who don’t exercise, and who eat poorly have a greater risk of becoming obese and developing type 2 diabetes. However, little research had been done regarding the long-term changes in sleep patterns. For this reason, a research team from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health set out to determine what happens when people sleep for more (or fewer) hours over time.

The team tracked nearly 60,000 American women, all of whom were nurses between the ages of 55 and 83 years old. Researchers looked for changes in the participants’ sleeping patterns from 1986 to 2000. They searched for connections between sleep changes and type 2 diabetes between 2000 and 2012. More than 3,500 of the women received a diagnosis for diabetes during that time period.

Once the statistics were adjusted to account for factors such as obesity, researchers discovered a significant link among participants who added two or more hours of sleep each night—they had a 15% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Women who were short on sleep and tried to catch up on it fared the worst in the study. Researchers found that when short sleepers added two hours of sleep each night, they increased their chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 21%.

Study author Elizabeth Cespedes suggests that, for now at least, it’s not clear whether changing sleeping patterns will prevent diabetes. Although, she notes, several studies being done in children and adults are looking to answer this question.

Jane Ferrie, a senior research fellow at the University of Bristol in England, praised the study. She suggests that women should let their doctors know if their sleep patterns change by two or more hours per night.

Source for Today’s Article:
Dotinga, R., “Sleep Patterns May Affect a Woman’s Diabetes Risk,” Medicine Net web site, November 4, 2015;