This Everyday Habit Can Set You Up for Type 2 Diabetes

This Everyday Habit Can Set You Up for Type 2 Diabetes

Not getting enough sleep is very common in this country. In 1999, 4.9 million people reported sleep trouble. By 2010, the number reached 5.5 million. The number is growing along with type 2 diabetes cases.

“In our sleep-deprived society, this is common,” says Dr. John Zonszein, Director of the Clinical Diabetes Center of Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. “Many people don’t get a good sleep because they are watching TV, or are in front of a computer or a smart phone screen all day and all night. We have lost our natural good sleep that consists of work during the day, evening relaxation and a good night’s sleep.” He says that not keeping this schedule means losing that elevation of blood sugar before we head out to work. “These hormones include glucagon, epinephrine, growth hormones and cortisol, which all work in tandem with insulin and play an important role in the regulation of sugar, and this normal hormonal ‘rhythm-icity’ is lost in our society and certainly may be a cause of diabetes and obesity.”

“Sleep difficulty itself may have biological effects, like increased stress hormones, which have been associated with increased insulin resistance. Or sleep difficulty may be related to stress, which may contribute to incrased risk of diabetes,” according to Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD, co-author of the study and professor of nutrition and also professor of Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health.

There is some good news. Several nights of poor sleep are not going to produce serious problems. However, multiple nights of less than six hours of sleep can lead to trouble.

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“Bottom line,” according to Hu, “both sleep quality and quantity are vital regarding the prevention of diabetes.”

A few suggestions for better sleep would be to turn off the computers and phones 60 to 90 minutes before sleep, read, play soft music or meditate, and try to follow a regular sleeping schedule every night, including weekends.

“People who sleep well are healthier,” says Zonszein.