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Sleeping Less Than 6 Hours Increases Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Although new cases of diabetes have decreased in the past decade, it’s still incredibly common. Currently, nearly 1 in 10, or 34 million Americans have diabetes. 90 to 95% of these cases are type 2 diabetes and 1 in 3, or 88 Americans have pre-diabetes. A number of factors can contribute to type 2 diabetes including diet, lack of exercise, being overweight and sleep apnea.

A recent study found that those who slept fewer than 6 hours per night were at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

woman with mask over eyes sleeping soundly.

The Danger of Not Sleeping Enough: Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers from the University of Sydney recently went through publication databases to look for studies of insomnia. The studies range from 1995 to June 2019. They found 15 total articles

That examined insomnia and insomnia with short sleep (less than 6 hours per night). The investigators found that the cases of insomnia with short sleep, and short sleep without insomnia, had a higher association with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

This isn’t the first case where researchers found a link between lack of sleep and type 2 diabetes. A study from 2017 found that poor quality sleep had a serious effect on the metabolism and as a result, contributed to a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.

So what does sleep have to do with diabetes? Sleep is essential for regulating hormones, including hunger hormones. Those who experience sleep deprivation tend to have higher levels of ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry), and lower levels of leptin (the hormone that makes you feel satisfied with your food). The combination makes one feel hungrier more often and crave starchy, fatty, sugary foods. By eating these types of food, it can increase one’s risk for type 2 diabetes.

Sleep deprivation was also associated with insulin resistance which is what occurs when glucose can’t enter cells correctly, so it builds up in the bloodstream instead. Insulin resistance can eventually result in type 2 diabetes.

Other Dangers of Short Sleep

In addition to increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes, not getting enough sleep can affect other factors of your life too. For instance, you might also experience:

  • Memory issues
  • Mood changes
  • Weakened immune system
  • High blood pressure
  • Concentration/thinking difficulty
  • Car accidents
  • Weight gain
  • Low sex drive
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Poor balance

Not sleeping the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night can have a huge impact on your health and quality of life. If you’re feeling tired every day, it might be time to reevaluate your sleeping habits. 

woman laying in bed in the middle of the night, unable to sleep

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep? Thankfully, technology makes it pretty easy to get an overview of your sleeping habits. You can wear an activity watch while you sleep or even download an app for your phone. These will give you a general overview of how many hours of sleep you get per night.

The CDC recommends the following amount of sleep per age group.

  • 0-3 months: 14-17 hours
  • 4-12 months: 12-16 hours
  • 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
  • 3-5 years: 10-13 hours
  • 6-12 years: 9-12 hours
  • 13-18 years: 8-10 hours
  • 18-60 years: 7+ hours
  • 61-64 years: 7-9 hours
  • 65 years: 7-8 hours

After tracking your sleep and adjusting to meet these recommendations, if you still feel tired during the day, something else might be going on. For instance, if you have a sleep disorder like sleep apnea, you might think you’re sleeping eight hours per night, but with sleep apnea, you’re constantly waking up throughout the night to catch your breath. Meaning, you’re not actually getting 8 hours or going through your sleep cycles correctly. This can cause you to feel tired during the day and experience the other symptoms of sleep deprivation.

Tips To Sleep Better and Longer

To help you get your best night of sleep and wake up feeling rested, we recommend the following tips.

Take a Sleep Test

If you’re sleeping 8 hours per night, but still feeling tired, you might have sleep apnea. Taking a home sleep test can help determine if this is the cause. Please contact our Woburn and Winchester dental office to learn more about home sleep testing. Once you receive a sleep apnea diagnosis, we can provide you with oral appliance therapy to enhance your quality of sleep.

Stick To a Schedule

We know it’s hard to wake up early and go to bed early on the weekend, but if you stick to the same sleep schedule all week, it will ensure you get the right amount of sleep. It will also help your body fall asleep faster and wake up faster because it’s on a schedule.

Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day

Don’t even think about reaching for a cup of coffee during your afternoon slump. Drinking caffeine too late in the day can interrupt your ability to fall asleep at night.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise can help you fall asleep faster and sleep better overall. Try to squeeze in at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. Also, try not to work out too close to bedtime as it can cause you to feel too awake to fall asleep.

Improve Your Sleep with Sleep Apnea Treatment in Woburn and Winchester

If you think you might have sleep apnea and you’re ready to get a better night of sleep and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Clancy at Divine Smiles. Our comprehensive team approach includes a Board-Certified Pulmonologist, Radiologists, Sleep & TMJ Trained Dentists, Laboratory Technicians, Certified Dental Assistants, as well as Insurance Specialists. We will help you get diagnosed and provide you with treatment that improves your health and life. Contact us to schedule an appointment by calling (781) 396-8558 today.

By Dr. Ryan Clancy | June 15th, 2021 | Sleep Apnea |

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