(NaturalNews) A night of disturbed and shallow sleep can lead to insulin resistance that may increase the risk of developing diabetes, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Chicago and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences.
Researchers monitored nine healthy women and men between the ages of 20 and 31 for two consecutive nights. All participants went to bed at 11 p.m. and slept undisturbed for 8.5 hours. For the next three nights, researchers used noises administered through speakers to disturb the sleepers whenever their brain activity indicated that they were moving into deep sleep. The noises were loud enough to prevent deep sleep, but not loud enough to cause the participants to wake up.
Deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep due to the types of waves the brain generates in that state, is already known to be associated with regulation of metabolism. By disrupting the participants' sleep, researchers were able to decrease their slow-wave sleep by approximately 90 percent.
According to Tasali, the decrease in slow-wave sleep induced in the study was equivalent to the change caused by aging 40 years.
"We gave people in their 20s the sleep of those in their 60s," Tasali said.
After three days of full but shallow sleep, the participants were injected with glucose, and their blood sugar levels and insulin response were measured. Eight of the nine participants had already developed a measure of insulin resistance, a hallmark of Type 2 diabetes. According to researchers, the degree of insulin sensitivity developed after only three nights was equivalent to the change that would be caused by gaining 20 or 30 pounds.
"We had shown previously that restricting sleep duration in healthy young adults results in decreased glucose tolerance," said lead researcher Ersa Tasali. "The current data further indicate that not only reduced sleep duration but also reduced sleep quality may play a role in diabetes risk."