Diabetes. A world of possibilities coverThis is chapter 6 of my book “DIABETES. A world of possibilities”, which I’m publishing here for free. You can access all the chapters published until now here.

The topic of sleep seems to be more important than one might think in relation to diabetes.
According to researchers from Chicago Medical Center University, suppression of slow wave sleep in healthy young adults significantly decreases their ability to regulate sugar levels in the blood and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Deep sleep, also called “slow-wave sleep,” is thought to be the most restorative sleeping phase.

This study found that, after only three nights of selective suppression of slow-wave sleep, healthy young people were less sensitive to insulin (25 percent less sensitive), resulting in an increase of 23 percent in blood glucose levels, comparable to older adults with impaired glucose tolerance.
Although they needed more insulin to metabolize the same amount of glucose, insulin secretion did not increase to compensate the reduced sensitivity, resulting in impaired glucose tolerance and increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
It seems unbelievable, but decreased insulin sensitivity was comparable to that produced by a weight gain of 20 to 28 pounds.

Previous studies had shown that the reduced amount of sleep can affect glucose metabolism and appetite regulation resulting in an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.

Eve Van Cauter, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study, said that since reduced amounts of deep sleep are typical in seniors and common sleep disorders are related to obesity, such as obstructive apnea, these results suggest that strategies to improve sleep quality and quantity may help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in populations at risk.

Young adults spend 80 to 100 minutes per night in slow-wave sleep, while people over 60 tend to spend less than 20 minutes at this stage of sleep. That is, the experiment put young people about 20 years old at a sleep pattern similar to people who are 60 years old. (5)

People with type 1 diabetes also have to watch how much they sleep and which hours they sleep, since the insulin injection schedules or the amount of insulin injected depends in part on that. Especially teenagers, with their altered sleep rhythm (go to bed late, waking up late on weekends …) should have a plan to adapt their insulin schedule to their sleep rhythm, or vice versa. It is recommended to consult with your doctor if you do not dare doing it yourself.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced that shift work, resulting in lack of sleep, is a known carcinogen. (6) If sleep is not taken care of or it is of poor quality, the body interprets this as a significant stressor, which compromises the immune system, makes you forgetful, and can even make you gain weight.

As Robb Wolf, research biochemist and one of the world’s leading experts in Paleo nutrition and author of “The Paleo Solution” said, “our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not have an alarm clock. They went to bed when the sun went down and got up as the sun rose. Like any other living thing, they were attuned to the seasons. They had long periods of leisure and downtime, and slept. This is what our genes expect at birth, but now we are living a very different reality.

How much sleep is enough? Robb Wolf says that “most of us need between 8 and 9 hours of sleep each night in a very dark room. We must wake up refreshed without an alarm clock. The bedroom should be black when you sleep: no lights, no televisions, computers, or alarm clocks.”

Sleep deprivation is a stressor on the body. Stress has an additive effect. We lose sleep, work longer hours, we worry about money, and take care of children. Each of these adds to our stress load. Sleep is probably the most important factor in relation to stress, but day after day stress can raise the hormone cortisol at night, making you tired during the day and awake at night, which affects the quality of sleep.

Now, it is not about taking it to extrems and going to sleep as the sun sets, because that would make it impossible to live a life adapted to our times. Maybe it would be enough to go to sleep at 11 p.m. and stop watching crap programs on television that last well into the morning.

(6) http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/workschedules/

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