Lack of sleep can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels and a higher risk of developing diabetes, a physician said yesterday.
Ho Yi-cheng (何一成), a family practitioner at Shu Tien Clinic in Taipei, cited a recent case in which a 46-year-old woman was found to have a blood sugar level of 148 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) — normal blood sugar levels range from 60 to 100mg/dL — and was later diagnosed with diabetes.
The woman has tried to control her blood sugar levels by taking medication, doing regular exercise and keeping a balanced diet, but she was found to have a fasting blood sugar level of 138mg/dL and a postprandial blood sugar level of 198mg/dL in a recent follow-up examination, he said.
Ho said the woman had been working late and slept for an average of three to four hours for several nights before the examination.
“Many studies suggest that lack of sleep causes blood sugar levels to increase, and the effect can be more serious for people with diabetes or with slightly higher blood sugar levels,” he said. “Sleeping for seven to eight hours per night is best; sleeping less than four hours is seriously insufficient.”
Insufficient sleep or poor quality sleep can affect leptin hormone levels and stress can affect cortisol levels causing inflammation, Ho said, adding that people with such problems often feel exhausted in the daytime, but more hungry which can lead to obesity, insulin resistance and poor glucose metabolism.
He said a study suggested that people who sleep for an average of less than four hours per day have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
“Poor sleep quality not only affects blood sugar levels, but is also associated with many chronic diseases,” Ho said. “Long-term lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can cause the body to age faster.”
Exercise can help stimulate autonomic nervous system functioning, he said.
Ho urged people to seek medical attention as early as possible if they detect rising blood sugar levels.
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