Beyond temporary mood disorders and tiredness, lack of sleep can inflict lasting damage on your body as researchers have found that insufficient sleep can increase the risk of diabetes, a chronic condition.
Lack of sleep reduces the body’s sensitivity to insulin, impairing the ability to regulate blood sugar and increasing the risk of diabetes, the researchers explained.
“We found that when people get too little sleep it leaves them awake at a time when their body clock is telling them they should be asleep,” said the study’s lead author Kenneth Wright, professor at University of Colorado Boulder in the US.
“And when they eat something in the morning, it impairs their ability to regulate their blood sugar levels,” Wright noted.
The researchers looked at a small number of healthy men and women in their study.
Half of the participants initially slept for up to five hours a night for five days to simulate a regular work week.
Then they slept for up to nine hours a night for five days. The other half completed the sleep conditions in the opposite order.
Blood tests later showed that those who slept five hours a night had a reduced sensitivity to insulin, which in time could increase the risk of getting diabetes.
But when they slept nine hours a night, oral insulin sensitivity returned to normal. Still, it was not enough time to restore intravenous insulin sensitivity to baseline levels.
The findings suggest that lack of sleep causes metabolic stress. The study appeared in the journal Current Biology.