Just 6 hours of sleep loss increases diabetes risk

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The importance of sleep is well-known. A recent study enforces this by demonstrating that sleep deprivation might increase diabetes risk — after losing just 1 night of sleep.

Sleep is undoubtedly one of physiology’s most mysterious but essential functions.

We all need it, yet the exact reasons why it’s so important are still being debated.

What we do know is that sleep is important for memory consolidation; it also seems to afford the brain time to clear out toxins that built up throughout the day.

A lack of sleep has a two-way relationship with psychiatric conditions: sleep disturbance can be caused by mental illness, and sleep deprivation can exacerbate, or even cause, mental illnesses.

Physically, sleep allows the body to recuperate; for instance, muscles are given time to heal and grow.

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Sleep deprivation is considered to be a large-scale concern in the United States. Due to a range of factors — including excessive screen time, artificial lighting, busy lives, and hectic jobs — around 1 in 3 people in the U.S. do not get the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night.

Scientists are still unraveling this epidemic’s potential consequences on health.

The effects of 6 hours of sleep deprivation

Immediately after the sleep intervention, the scientists measured glucose levels and fat content in the liver. They found elevated blood glucose in the liver of sleep-deprived mice. These changes were significant after just one 6-hour period of sleep deprivation.

The researchers also measured triglyceride levels in the liver because an increase in production is associated with an increase in insulin resistance, or an inability to process insulin correctly. As expected, in the sleep-deprived mice, levels were elevated.

Also, in the sleep-deprived mice, the investigators measured changes in liver enzymes that are associated with metabolism. The authors believe that these may be the root cause of insulin resistance and buildup of fat in the liver.

The authors conclude that sleep deprivation is, therefore, a risk factor for diabetes, regardless of changes in activity and diet. If this is the case, and further studies back up the findings, ensuring that people with increased diabetes risk have a good sleep routine could be vital.

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