Study: Irregular sleep may raise diabetes risk by lowering insulin sensitivity

Researchers are reporting that the control of blood sugar (glucose) levels by insulin can change rapidly in response to shifting bedtimes (sleep schedules) in a way that may raise the risk of diabetes. When sleeping on a regular schedule, glucose levels are primarily regulated by changing insulin production levels. In a new study involving 14 healthy adults, researchers discovered that by changing the sleep schedule (such as shift work), the body quickly adopts a less effective means of glucose regulation that lowers insulin sensitivity and is associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study suggests that changes in a person’s sleep schedule disrupt the “body clock” (circadian rhythm), making it harder for the body to align the control of glucose levels needed for optimal health. The study could provide new insights into the link between sleep disorders and diabetes.  Partly funded by NHLBI, the study appeared in Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism.