Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Lack of sleep may increase the risk of obesity and diabetes, study finds

The study claims that as little as 30 minutes of 'sleep debt' a day can lead to health problems

Jamie Campbell
Sunday 15 March 2015 17:21 GMT

A lack of sleep may be putting some people at a greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, a new study has suggested.

Findings, shown at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, said that those losing sleep on weekdays were more likely to develop the conditions.

A study, carried out by a team at the University of Bristol and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, analysed the sleeping habits of 522 people to assess “sleep debt”, a measure of the difference in the nightly hours asleep on week days and at the weekend.

They found that the action of throwing the body clock out of sync can disrupt the natural rhythm of hormones in the body that can put the body into a pre-diabetic state and lead to a host of health problems.

The report says that the pressures of shift-driven work and social lives means that many people cut their sleep during the week and catch up at weekends.

Professor Shahrad Taheri from Weill Cornell said that: “We found that as little as 30 minutes a day sleep debts can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance.

“Sleep loss is widespread in modern society, but only in the last decade have we realised its metabolic consequences.”

He said that avoiding sleep debt could have positive benefits for waistlines and metabolism and that incorporating sleep into lifestyle interventions for weight loss and diabetes might improve their success.

Dr Denise Robertson, a senior lecturer from the University of Surrey, commented to the BBC: " This work is interesting and consistent with prospective data found in healthy individuals with type 2 diabetes.

"However, before this association between sleep length, obesity and metabolic status can be used in terms of public health we need the next tier of evidence.

The study was funded by the UK’s department of Health, where 10 per cent of the healthcare budget is already spent on treating diabetes.

The disease can lead to blindness, increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well damaging nerves and blood vessels which can dramatically increase the risk of foot amputation.

BUPA recommends that adults should get between seven and eight hours sleep a night, teenagers should get nine and children generally need between nine and ten.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in