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Sleep Deprivation Linked to Prediabetes

Study Shows Increased Risk for People Who Get Less Than 6 Hours of Sleep a Night
By Caroline Wilbert
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 12, 2009 -- Here's one more reason to get a good night's sleep.

People who sleep less than six hours per night are more likely to develop impaired fasting glucose, or prediabetes, a study shows.

The research was presented this week at the American Heart Association's Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

The study examined the health records of nearly 1,500 participants in the Western New York Health Study. Researchers identified 91 participants who had fasting blood glucose levels of less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) during baseline exams between 1996 and 2001; the participants had higher blood fasting glucose levels -- between 100 mg/dL and 125 mg/dL -- at follow-up exams in 2003-2004.

Those 91 participants were compared with 273 people who had blood glucose levels of less than 100 mg/dL both at baseline and follow-up. Researchers matched the groups according to gender, race/ethnicity, and year of study enrollment.

A normal fasting blood glucose level is less than 100 mg/dL. A fasting blood glucose result of 100mg/dL to 125 mg/dL is considered impaired fasting glucose. Having impaired fasting glucose is commonly referred to as prediabetes because many people with prediabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes.

Participants reported how much they slept during the work week. Participants fell into three categories: short sleepers (less than six hours), mid-sleepers (six to eight hours), and long sleepers (more than eight hours).

During the six-year study period, participants who slept on average less than six hours a night during the work week were 4.56 times more likely than those getting six to eight hours of sleep to convert from normal blood sugar levels to impaired fasting glucose, researchers said. These findings took into account other factors such as age, obesity, and family history of diabetes.

No association was found in people who slept more than eight hours compared to those who slept six to eight hours.

"This study supports growing evidence of the association of inadequate sleep with adverse health issues," study researcher Lisa Rafalson, PhD, a National Research Service Award fellow and research assistant professor at the University at Buffalo in New York, says in a news release.

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