Insomnia symptoms could explain type 2 diabetes incidence in women who smoke, drink and have psychiatric disorders.


Insulin resistance and appetite signaling may explain some of the mechanisms in which diabetes could be caused by insomnia (i.e., difficult to initiate or maintain a sleep pattern); it is still not clear if this is a causal relationship. For example, it is possible to manage type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) by improving sleep pattern. However, there are other factors – such as obesity, physical inactivity and poor diet – that may also explain a potential association.

To test this hypothesis, researchers from UK analyzed both a potential direct association between insomnia symptoms with T2DM, and the magnitude of the influence of insomnia symptoms and potential confounding factors in the risk of developing T2DM in a cohort followed for 20 years. T2DM was determined by self-reporting, self-reporting of diabetic medication, or glycated hemoglobin (i.e., a long-term marker of blood glucose [HbA1c ≥ 6.5%]). Insomnia symptoms were measure by a few questions such as: (1) “How often do you have trouble getting to sleep?”, (2) “How often are you bothered by waking earlier than you would like to, or by waking up in the middle of the night?”, (3) “During the past month how often have you had trouble sleeping because you cannot get to sleep within 30 minutes?” and (4) “During the past month how often have you had trouble sleeping because you wake up in the middle of the night or early morning?” A score of insomnia symptoms was calculated based on these questions. Gender, socioeconomic position (SEP), smoking, heavy drinking, physical inactivity, poor diet, psychiatric distress and overweight/obesity were considered as cofounding factors. The incidence of diabetes in those with insomnia was measured.

Results determined that people who experience insomnia symptoms over the years have an increased risk of developing T2DM; however, this association was mostly confounded by factors such as being a woman, smoking, heavy drinking and by the presence of psychiatric distress. This suggests that the risk of T2DM is influenced by having difficulty sleeping properly, smoking, drinking alcohol and psychiatric disorders.


Written By: Vagner Raso

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