Adequate sleep is a key aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Recent research has revealed an association between sleep duration and the development of diabetes. This could reflect causal effects of sleep on diabetes, or sleep duration may be the result of other factors that cause diabetes. No randomized controlled trials have assessed the effect of sleep on diabetes, and such a study would be difficult to conduct.
To provide additional randomized evidence, CUNY SPH Professor Mary Schooling and colleagues assessed risk of diabetes by genetically predicted sleep duration. Using a method called Mendelian randomization, the team focused on portions of the genomes of the study participants that are known to be associated with sleep duration, and then compared that information with the rate of diabetes among the same group. The results were published in the journal Preventative Medicine.
The study found no clear evidence that longer sleep duration reduces the risk of diabetes, or that it improves markers of glucose metabolism. However, Schooling says, we cannot exclude the possibility that sleep affects diabetes differently in men and women.
“Sleep is important for many reasons, but protecting against diabetes may not be one of them,” she says.
Jiao Wang, Man Ki Kwok, Shiu Lun Au Yeung, Albert Martin Li, Hugh Simon Lamb, June Yue Yan Leung, Lai Ling Hui, Gabriel Matthew Leung, Catherine Mary Schooling, Sleep duration and risk of diabetes: Observational and Mendelian randomization studies. Preventative Medicine, Feb 2019