New research demonstrates that extended sleep for two consecutive nights improves insulin sensitivity and decreases risk of diabetes by over 16%.
How’d They Do That?
A team of researchers at the University of Colorado studied the insulin sensitivity patterns of 19 young men to determine the how sleep affects the risk of developing diabetes. Specifically, the study participants slept for 8 hours for 4 nights; the same group was then allowed to sleep for 4.5 hours for 4 nights. Following the 4 nights of sleep deprivation, researchers allowed participants to sleep as long as they wanted for 2 nights; volunteers slept an average of 9 hours and 45 minutes a night for these two nights.
Following the sleep study, researchers determined participants’ insulin sensitivity and predicted risk of diabetes. The study demonstrated that insulin sensitivity, or the body’s ability to function while keeping blood sugar low, decreased by nearly 25% and the risk of diabetes increased by 16%. However, both insulin sensitivity and risk of diabetes returned to normal levels following the two nights of extended sleep.
What Does This Mean For Me?
While sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night is recommended for optimal health, it isn’t always possible. In fact, recent polls indicate that over 40% of the population sleep less than 7 hours per night. The findings of this study demonstrate the importance of sleeping as much as you can – when you have the opportunity to do so. It helps to think of sleep in terms of money – the more you sleep, the more money you have in the bank. While a busy work week might not always provide the opportunity for a solid night’s sleep, “banking” as much sleep on the weekends appears to reduce the risk of diabetes caused by sleeping less than 5 hours each night.