Decreased Sleep Means Increased Insulin Resistance

A new study to be published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) says that a single night of too little sleep can induce insulin resistance. 

“Sleep duration has shortened considerably in western societies in the past decade and simultaneously, there has been an increase in the prevalence of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes,” said Esther Donga, MD in a press release from the Endocrine Society.  Dr. Donga of the Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands is the lead author of the study. “The co-occurring rises in shortened sleep and diabetes prevalence may not be a coincidence. Our findings show a short night of sleep has more profound effects on metabolic regulation than previously appreciated.”

While previous studies have suggested that repeated nights of too little sleep can influence insulin regulation, this is the first study to demonstrate that just a single night of stunted slumber can have a significant effect.

Nine healthy people (five men and four women) were studied, once after a normal night of sleep (eight hours), and once after four hours of sleep. Sleep restriction did not affect basal levels of glucose or insulin. Insulin sensitivity was measured by hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp studies. Glucose and insulin were infused directly into the bloodstream, and the amount of additional glucose needed to compensate for increased insulin levels without causing hypoglycemia was measured. These data are used to determine insulin sensitivity.

The article, “A single night of partial sleep deprivation induces insulin resistance in multiple metabolic pathways in healthy subjects,” will appear in the June 2010 issue of JCEM.

Other researchers working on the study include: Marieke van Dijk, J. Gert van Dijk, Neinke Biermasz, Gert-Jan Lammers, Klaas van Kralingen, Eleonara Corssmit and Johannes Romijn of Leiden University Medical Center in The Netherlands.

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Endocrine Society news release

Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism abstract