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Lack of Deep Sleep Linked to Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

60 Minutes graphic

CBS' "60 Minutes" recently aired a feature story about a University of Chicago Medical Center study that uncovered a link between lack of deep sleep -- called slow-wave sleep -- and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

» Read the "60 Minutes" story

The University of Chicago study found that after only three nights of reduced slow-wave sleep, young healthy subjects became less sensitive to insulin. Although they needed more insulin to dispose of the same amount of glucose, their insulin secretion did not increase to compensate for reduced sensitivity, resulting in reduced tolerance to glucose and increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The decrease in insulin sensitivity was comparable to that caused by gaining 20 to 30 pounds.

Previous studies have demonstrated that reduced sleep quantity can impair glucose metabolism and appetite regulation resulting in increased risk of obesity and diabetes. This current study provides the first evidence linking poor sleep quality to increased diabetes risk.

Esra Tasali Esra Tasali, MD

"These findings demonstrate a clear role for slow-wave sleep in maintaining normal glucose control," said the study's lead author, Esra Tasali, MD, assistant professor of medicine. "A profound decrease in slow-wave sleep had an immediate and significant adverse effect on insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance."

Eve Can Cauter, Eve Van Cauter, PhD

"Since reduced amounts of deep sleep are typical of aging and of common obesity-related sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, these results suggest that strategies to improve sleep quality, as well as quantity, may help to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in populations at risk," said Eve Van Cauter, PhD, professor of medicine and senior author of the study. » Read more details about the study

Learn more about the University of Chicago study authors:

Leaders In Care for Sleep Disorders and Diabetes

Sleep Disorders

The University of Chicago Sleep Disorders Center offers the full range of diagnostic and treatment options for adults and children with sleep disorders. Our sleep medicine experts specialize in the assessment of respiratory and non-respiratory sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorders, chronic insomnia, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome.

Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

A core part of this program is the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center, a resource that offers a patient-centered, science-based approach for managing diabetes.

A History of Excellence

The University of Chicago has a long history of leadership in sleep research and in the study of diabetes. In 1914, a University of Chicago scientist was the first to measure the level of glucose in the blood. The world's first sleep laboratory was established at the University of Chicago in the 1920s. From the past through to the present, pioneering research in these areas has led to many breakthroughs in patient care. » Learn more about Medical Center firsts