No, one night of lost sleep won’t cause diabetes, but a new study has identified some of the major reasons that poor sleep increases your risk of developing diabetes over time. Insomnia and poor sleep habits have long been connected to the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, theories about why these two conditions are related have been up for debate.
If you’ve ever missed a night of sleep, you’ve probably experienced the increased desire for junk food and caffeine that usually follows a night of tossing and turning. Some believe that, in order to compensate for low energy, the body craves high-calorie foods that can provide a quick boost. It makes sense. Imagine that, day after day, poor sleep drove you to choose high-calorie and nutrient-void foods. Over time, this pattern could lead to weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes.
Diabetes increases after a night of lost sleep before you ever take a bite.
Researchers tested two groups of mice–some that were allowed to sleep overnight and others that were kept awake. After a 6-hour period, they tested the mice to analyze if their bodies responded differently to the two scenarios. In fact, they had quite a few differences, and this is what they found.
1. Triglycerides spikes
Triglyceride (fat) levels increased significantly in the sleep deprivation group after a single night of sleep loss.
Elevated liver triglycerides are associated with insulin resistance. Over time, the inability to process insulin properly leads to high blood sugar levels.
2. Increased Blood Sugar
They also found that, while triglyceride levels spiked, glucose production in the liver also increased. This makes sense from a compensatory view. If your body is trying to overcome a lack of sleep, it needs to produce more energy (in the form of glucose) to keep you moving all day. This means your blood sugar increases, and high triglyceride levels impair your insulin response.
3. Changes in Metabolism
Even more interesting was that a night of missed sleep modified metabolic liver enzymes. This means that on top of glucose and insulin changes, the body may lose its ability to metabolize efficiently, as well. This shift could cause sustainable changes to metabolism over time.
There are some tried-and-true foundations for good health like eating whole foods, moving your body, and getting good sleep. Of course, these are just the basics, but if you don’t have these habits nailed, then your health is at risk. It’s easy to ignore symptoms like poor sleep by blaming it on stress or by taking sleep aids to get you through the night, but these methods won’t prevent the damage that’s inevitably happening behind the scenes.
If you suffer from poor sleep, don’t mask the symptoms. Find the right kind of help that will address the root causes of your sleep problems. Our clinic uses thorough laboratory testing and personalized treatments to ensure that your body has the best chance at regaining health and vitality. If you suffer from poor sleep, don’t wait for problems to pile on, seek help now.