A recent study suggests that those who regularly sleep fewer than six hours a night have double the increased risk of diabetes, while a similar report shows those sleeping for fewer than five hours have triple the risk.
The latest Journal of the American Heart Association carried the research conducted by Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, who analyzed data of more than 1,600 adults. The study found that hypertension or diabetes patients who sleep for fewer than six hours a day have twice the increased risk of dying from heart disease or stroke and triple the increased risk of dying from cancer-associated disease.
Diabetes patients who sleep insufficiently have a higher risk of dying from heart disease or stroke, the report added.
Citing the research, Taiwanese Association of Diabetes Educators president Tu Shih-te (杜思德) on Friday said that when diabetes patients suffer from fatigue after insufficient sleep, the compensatory mechanisms in their body would signal the brain to make energy by eating more, which would lead to a great fluctuation in blood sugar.
“Like waves lapping against the shore, such fluctuations cause dysfunction of endothelial cells in blood vessels, which will increase the risk of arteriosclerosis [the hardening of the walls of arteries], stroke and heart disease,” Tu said
Diabetes patients often “eat much, sleep much and urinate much,” Tu said, adding that when patient’s blood sugar level exceeds 250 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), insulin resistance — as a result of compromised sleep quality after frequent visits to the toilet — would occur, which means that more insulin is needed to maintain normal blood sugar level.
Insulin resistance increases a patient’s risk of pathological changes in capillaries and blood vessels, he said.
Tu pointed to another study by Pennsylvania State University researcher Alexandros N. Vgontzas that said that people sleeping fewer than five hours have 2.95 times the increased risk of diabetes, 2.07 times the increased risk for those sleeping for five to six hours, showing that the less one sleeps, the higher the risk of diabetes.
The Taiwan Association of Applied Psychology chairman Tsai Yu-che (蔡宇哲) added that according to the National Sleep Foundation in the US, adults should sleep at least seven hours a day, because sleeping fewer than six hours not only makes you sluggish and easily distracted, but also puts your body at a higher risk of getting sick.
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