You could have never thought keeping diabetes at bay was so easy. A new study suggests that increased risk of diabetes in lean, healthy, young men, who eat controlled diet, can be counteracted with two consecutive nights of extended sleep, a typical weekend occurrence. The finding, based on a study performed at the University of Chicago sleep laboratory, could affect large numbers of people who work long hours.
The pattern of cutting back on sleep during the work week followed by catching up on sleep over the weekend is common. Even short-term sleep restriction, with four or five hours of sleep per night, can increase the risk of developing diabetes by about 16% comparable to the increase in risk caused by obesity.
Author Josiane Broussard said that in this short-term study they found that two long nights spent catching up on lost sleep can reverse the negative metabolic effects of four consecutive nights of restricted sleep. Senior author Esra Tasali said that the metabolic response to this extra sleep was very interesting and encouraging. It shows that young, healthy people who sporadically fail to get sufficient sleep during the work week can reduce their diabetes risk if they catch up on sleep during the weekend.
Broussard said though this is evidence that weekend catch-up sleep may help someone recover from a sleep-deprived week. Increased risk of developing diabetes is not the only drawback associated with inadequate sleep, the authors point out. The volunteers in this study were given a calorie-controlled diet, but sleep-deprived adults outside the laboratory setting tend to eat more, with a strong preference for sweets and high-fat foods.
Chronically sleep deprived people are more likely to develop other health problems such as increased inflammation and high blood pressure. They also show cognitive problems, tend to be less alert and have difficulty concentrating, reasoning and solving problems. They are prone to traffic accidents. The impact of extra weekend sleep on other adverse health and safety outcomes remains to be determined. The study is published in the journal Diabetes Care.