Home Diet Study finds that sleep deprivation increases diabetes risk regardless of healthy eating habits

Study finds that sleep deprivation increases diabetes risk regardless of healthy eating habits

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In a recent study published in JAMA network openresearchers investigated how an individual’s sleep duration and eating habits are associated with the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Their results from a cohort study show that sleep deprivation and unhealthy dietary patterns are risk factors for T2D and have implications for public health strategies to prevent diabetes.

study: Habitual short sleep duration, diet, and the development of type 2 diabetes in adults.. Image credit: Lysenko Andrii/Shutterstock.com


Researchers believe that people who sleep less than seven hours a day are short sleepers, with research suggesting up to a third of adults may be short sleepers. .

Sleep restriction can affect insulin resistance and glucose metabolism, so not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of multiple negative health outcomes, including T2D.

Increasing sleep time to at least 7 hours per day may reduce T2D risk, but many factors affect an individual’s ability to get enough sleep, primarily financial pressures, work schedules, and childcare responsibilities. is restricted.

However, healthy eating habits can counteract the negative health effects of sleep deprivation, including T2D risk.

About research

In this UK-based study, researchers hypothesized that following healthy eating habits may be associated with a lower risk of developing T2D in individuals who are short sleepers. .

The cohort study included assessment of dietary habits, daily sleep duration, and T2D incidence as primary outcomes of interest.

For the sleep assessment, participants between the ages of 38 and 71 were asked to report their sleep hours, including naps, every 24 hours.

People who sleep 7 to 8 hours are considered to have “normal” sleep, 6 hours as “mild short” sleep, 5 hours as “moderate short” sleep, and 3 to 4 hours as “very short” sleep. It is considered.

The dietary questionnaire included questions regarding intake of unprocessed and processed red meat, vegetables, fruits, and fish.

People who consume less than two servings each of processed foods and unprocessed red meat and two or more servings of fish per week are classified as healthier, and consume at least four tablespoons of vegetables and two pieces of fruit per day. The same was true for people taking .

Each of these five behaviors was equally weighted, and individuals received a score between 0, representing the least healthy behavior, and 5, representing the healthiest behavior. Hospital inpatient records were used to ascertain whether an individual developed her T2D.

The researchers analyzed the data using proportional hazards regression analysis, which describes the dose-response relationship between T2D risk and sleep duration.

Additive and multiplicative interactions between sleep duration and dietary scores were also modeled.

The adjusted model also included gender, ethnicity and race, smoking status, alcohol intake, BMI, blood pressure, education, physical activity, and antidepressant use. All-cause mortality was included as a potential competing outcome.

Investigation result

The study involved 247,867 people with an average age of 60 years. Slightly more than half of the sample was female, and nearly 94% reported being White European as a race or ethnicity.

Just over three-quarters of the sample were classified as normal sleepers. Approximately 20% were mild short sleepers, 4% were moderate short sleepers, and less than 1% were extremely short sleepers.

Only 17% achieved a healthy eating score of 5, while 29%, 27.5%, 17.6% and 1.5% achieved a score of 4, 3, 2 and 1 respectively. Approximately 3.2% (7905 individuals) of the sample received their T2D diagnosis within a median of 12.5 years.

Compared to a reference group of normal sleepers, those who slept five hours a night were 16% more likely to develop T2D, and those who slept three to four hours were 41% more likely to develop T2D. However, regular sleep was not significantly different from mild short sleep.

Compared to people who ate the least healthy diets, people who scored a 4 or 5 on the diet score were 25% less likely to develop T2D. Scores of 3, 2, and 1 were not associated with significantly lower risk than the reference group.

The researchers observed that there was no multiplicative or additive interaction between dietary scores and sleep duration in both unadjusted and adjusted models. Sensitivity analyzes including all-cause mortality did not change the primary results.


The main findings of this study indicate that people who habitually sleep short may be at increased risk of developing T2D, even if they maintain a healthy diet.

Inadequate sleep can impair insulin sensitivity at the cellular level, shift skeletal muscle energy metabolism toward non-glucose oxidation, increase sympathetic nervous system activity, and alter the microbial community in the gut. .

Because increasing sleep time is not practical for many people, other strategies need to be identified to reduce T2D risk. Interventions that can be studied include following a Mediterranean diet or a similar healthy diet and increasing physical exercise.

Additionally, future research should also address other causes of sleep deprivation unrelated to economic and caregiving needs, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

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