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Poor sleep linked to higher diabetes risk, even while eating healthy – New York Post

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Talk about a wake-up call — adults who sleep only three to five hours a night face a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, a new study found.

“I generally recommend prioritizing sleep, although I understand it’s not always possible, especially as a parent of four teenagers,” said Christian Benedict, lead study researcher and associate professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, in a statement.

More than 38 million Americans have diabetes — the vast majority of them have Type 2 diabetes. Risk factors include being overweight, over age 45 and physically inactive.

Now, researchers say that people who sleep less than six hours daily have a “notably higher risk” of developing Type 2 diabetes compared with those who sleep seven to eight hours.

The study findings, published Tuesday in JAMA Network Open, stem from the assessment of the sleep and dietary patterns of 247,867 UK adults 38 to 71 — 52.3% of the participants were female.

They were placed into four sleep duration groups: normal (seven to eight hours per day), mild short (six hours per day), moderate short (five hours per day), and extreme short (three to four hours per day).

People who sleep less than six hours daily have a “notably higher risk” of developing Type 2 diabetes, a study found. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Their dietary habits were graded from 0 (unhealthiest) to 5 (healthiest), based on their consumption of red meat, processed meat, fruits, vegetables and fish.

During the 13-year follow-up period, 7,905 participants (3.2%) were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The chronic condition affects the body’s ability to process sugar for energy, resulting in high blood sugar levels.

The researchers found that while healthy eating lowers the risk of developing the disease, people who slept less than six hours a night weren’t able to offset the effects with a healthy diet.

“Our results are the first to question whether a healthy diet can compensate for lack of sleep in terms of the risk of Type 2 diabetes,” Benedict said. “They should not cause concern, but instead be seen as a reminder that sleep plays an important role in health.”

More than 38 million Americans have diabetes — the vast majority of them have Type 2 diabetes. Getty Images

A 2023 study by Columbia University found that reducing women’s sleep by just 90 minutes for six weeks increased their insulin resistance and raised their risk of developing diabetes.

Seven to nine hours of sleep a night is recommended for adults, but Columbia researchers noted about one-third of Americans log less than that.

A University of Glasgow professor told CNN that while the Uppsala findings highlight a link between poor sleep and diabetes, it’s not a cause-and-effect relationship.

That “would require randomized trials intervening on sleeping habits to increase sleep time and see if this reduces risk of diabetes in those at risk, e.g. those with pre-diabetes,” Dr. Naveed Sattar, a professor of cardiometabolic medicine, told the outlet.

Seven to nine hours of sleep a night is recommended for adults for optimal health. Getty Images

Benedict’s team says further research is needed to explore whether specific dietary habits, such as eating at certain times of the day, can counteract or alleviate the effects of poor sleep.

Experts say better sleep can be achieved by exercising during the day; avoiding alcohol, caffeine and large meals before bed; and unplugging electronics. Some people also swear by a warm bath or shower to unwind and breathing exercises to calm the mind.

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