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Inadequate Sleep Linked to Higher Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women, Study Reveals

A recent study suggests that insufficient sleep may significantly increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Researchers found that reducing sleep to just six hours over a six-week period led to increased insulin resistance in otherwise healthy women, with postmenopausal women experiencing a more pronounced impact.

Impact of Sleep Deprivation

The study, published in the journal Diabetes Care, revealed that a mild sleep deficit of 90 minutes for six weeks can cause changes in the body that heighten the risk of diabetes. This finding is crucial as it underscores the potential long-term consequences of chronic insufficient sleep, particularly in individuals with prediabetes.

Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, an author of the study and associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University, emphasized that the increased need for insulin to normalize glucose levels observed in the study could accelerate the progression to type 2 diabetes if sustained over time.

Focus on Women’s Health

The research focused on women due to previous studies indicating that poor sleep has a more significant impact on the cardiometabolic health of women compared to men. Women undergo various changes in sleep habits throughout their lives, such as during childbearing, child-rearing, and menopause, making them particularly susceptible to the effects of inadequate sleep.

In the study, 38 healthy women, including 11 postmenopausal, participated. The women, accustomed to at least seven hours of sleep per night, underwent two 6-week phases: one with regular sleep and another with a 90-minute delay in bedtime.

Findings and Implications

Reducing sleep by 90 minutes over six weeks increased insulin resistance by nearly 15% overall, and postmenopausal women experienced an increase of over 20%. Contrary to expectations, the impact on insulin resistance was not attributed to an increase in abdominal fat.

The study is groundbreaking as it demonstrates the potential real-world consequences of mild sleep deprivation, a scenario more reflective of daily life compared to previous studies using more significant sleep restriction.

Insights from Experts

Dr. Norah Simpson, a clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, emphasized the significance of the study’s real-world approach in modeling potential sleep patterns.

Experts recommend that adults, on average, need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health. Both insufficient and excessive sleep have been linked to higher mortality risks and various health issues, making the quality and duration of sleep essential factors in overall well-being.

Insufficient sleep is associated with increased risks of high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and other health concerns. In addition to the quantity of sleep, the quality of sleep also plays a crucial role in maintaining good health.


The study sheds light on the importance of addressing sleep patterns, especially in women, to mitigate the risk of type 2 diabetes. Acknowledging the impact of sleep on overall health is crucial for individuals and healthcare professionals alike. As the research continues to uncover the intricate relationship between sleep and health, prioritizing healthy sleep patterns emerges as a fundamental component of holistic well-being.

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