A new study suggests that catching up on sleep over the weekend can lower your risk of getting diabetes.
The study conducted at the University of Chicago sleep laboratory put 19 study participants through a regimen of sleep deprivation for four nights and then allowed them to “sleep in” over the weekend. Results showed that although the subjects’ diabetes risk increased over the simulated work week by 16 percent -a risk increase similar to that associated with obesity- when measured again after two catch up nights their diabetes risk indicators went back down to pre-sleep deprivation levels.
“In this short-term study, we found that two long nights spent catching up on lost sleep can reverse the negative metabolic effects of four consecutive nights of restricted sleep,” says study author Josiane Broussard of the University of Colorado, Boulder.
The participants spent 4.5 hours in bed during each of the four week nights and then averaged 9.7 hours each night over the next two nights. Researchers measured the subjects’ insulin sensitivity (the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars) over the week and found that it had decreased by 23 percent but then bounced back to normal after two good nights’ sleep.
The connection between sleep and diabetes has been known for some time. Sleep is an important factor in regulating metabolism, which in turn helps control blood sugar levels. Those who are regularly sleep deprived – shift workers, for example – are at risk for, among other things, metabolism drops which can add on extra pounds and increase the risk of diabetes.
Diabetes rates in Canada are among the highest in the developed world, according to reports from the Canadian Institute of Health Information and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. More than 3 million Canadians (9.4 percent of the population) is estimated to have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes and 5.7 million are thought to have pre-diabetes: above normal blood sugar levels and a high chance of progression to full diabetes.
Diabetes is also a growing health concern among Canadian seniors. The CIHI report states that, “without a shift in policies ad priorities the prevalence of diabetes is expected to continue to grow.”
According to Dr. David Lau of the University of Calgary’s School of Medicine, differences in obesity rates among the population mean that the Maritime provinces have the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes, with the lowest found in British Columbia.
If you’re planning on burning the midnight oil on a regular basis, though, and hoping that the weekends will even it all out, you may want to wait for further results. Broussard warns that the study is not conclusive. “This was not a long-term study and our subjects went through this process only once.” In fact, the study’s participants were of fairly a narrow range – they were all healthy, lean and young men.
“Going forward we intend to study the effects of extended weekend sleep schedules in people who repeatedly curtail their weekday sleep,” says Broussard.
The study was published online in the journal Diabetes Care.