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Irregular Sleep Patterns Can Lead To Diabetes, Obesity: Research


If your sleep schedule is out of whack because of your lifestyle, you might have more than just undereye circles to consider.

According to a new study in the journal Science Translational Medicine, sleeping to a schedule that conflicts with your body’s natural rhythms can be associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity. The study was performed by monitoring 21 healthy people during three weeks of disrupted, short sleep sessions to determine how these problems arise.

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers monitored the 21 participants as they lived in a laboratory where their sleep schedules were messed with, moving from normal hours of nighttime sleep to 5 ½ hours of disrupted sleep spurts spread throughout the day and night.

The disrupted schedules got the attention of insulin levels, sending three people into a pre-diabetic state. The restricted and irregular schedule slowed metabolism so much that if the schedule kept up for an entire year with no other dietary or routine changes, the person had the potential to gain 12 or more pounds.

The study really just adds to the growing evidence that we don’t give sleep enough credit. Another study was conducted last year, observing 175,000 nurses. Those who worked night shifts 3 or more times a month for more than 2 years were at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The results of these two studies are encouraging researchers to look into why disrupted sleep has such a harsh effect on insulin levels, as well as prevention methods.

Orfeu Buxton, one of the lead researchers, says people really need to start looking at sleep differently, taking it into higher consideration and making it a priority for good health. He stresses the importance of measuring your sleep number, or just how many hours of sleep you need every night to function at your best. To do this, avoid too many caffeinated products, catch up on any sleep debt, and go to sleep without an alarm clock. After a few nights he says you’ll notice your natural sleeping hours are all pretty close, within 10 minutes of one another.

What do you do to keep your sleep and health schedules on track? I know for a fact that working from home has done wonders for my sleep and overall health. The average adult lifestyle of working 8 or more hours a day in an office – or even worse, a night shift – takes a serious toll on our bodies, and I never knew how drastic it was until I began waking up without an alarm clock and eating when I felt hungry rather than when I was given a lunch break.

If you work or sleep during odd hours, do you think it’s negatively impacted your health? What do you do to try and maintain a healthy sleep schedule?

via BBC
Image CC licensed by David Goehring

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