I habitually trawl the news and science journals, and often find studies that illuminate, confirm, or refute some salient point. I’ve decided to start noting these when I stumble across them, almost more for my own benefit than for yours.
But first, more about me:
When I was in high school, probably starting around 11th grade, I got a pretty severe case of computer addiction. This was really too bad, because it was 1973 or so, and the PC just literally didn’t exist, and wouldn’t yet for years.
So, I would stay up until 3:30am at night, reading books on programming and writing programs in notebooks. I even wrote a BASIC interpreter in APL in 1974, replete with user accounts and full system administration, and got about half of it entered and debugged before the local college’s sole APL terminal broke down, never to be repaired.
Since I still lived in the real world, I had to get up at 7:30am every day and go to school. My dad would have breakfast ready for me and I’d stumble down to the table, eat my sandwich, drink my orange juice, and drive off. Of course, this made staying awake during any class that wasn’t absolutely riveting pretty difficult, but as I say, I had the computer sickness bad.
And then, even as early as my sophomore year in college, I was known for incredible snoring; my roommates would literally pile shoes near their beds where they could hurl them at me to get me to change position, not that I’d remember this in the morning. This turned out to be sleep apnea, which remained undiagnosed for a good 15 years.
Finally, during much of my adult life, up until just the last year or two, I would stay up fairly late, lucky to get six hours of uninterrupted sleep, if that.
Well, (and this will surprise you, I know), it turns out that all this was bad.
A recent study showed that failing to get enough deep sleep, even for as little as just a few consecutive nights, caused insulin resistance equivalent to gaining 20 or 30 pounds, even in slim, healthy young adults, raising glucose levels 23%, on average.
From the Reuters article:
[Researchers Esra Tasali and Eve Van Cauter’s] team wanted to see if a disruption in deep sleep could increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.
[Their] team studied nine adults between the ages of 20 and 31, who spent two consecutive nights in a sleep lab where they slept undisturbed for 8.5 hours each night.
Then, for three nights, the researchers disrupted their sleep with noise just as brain wave activity indicated they were drifting off into deep sleep. The sounds were loud enough to disturb deep sleep, but subtle enough not to wake the study participants.
The effect was to reduce slow-wave deep sleep by about 90 percent without altering total sleep time.
At the end of each study, the researchers injected a sugar or glucose solution into each subject and measured their blood sugar and response to insulin, the hormone that regulates the glucose.
After three nights of disturbed sleep, eight of the nine volunteers had become less sensitive to insulin, without increasing the production of insulin…
Reduced sleep often results from obesity and age. While most young adults spend 80 to 100 minutes per night in slow-wave sleep, this decreases to just 20 minutes for adults over 60.
“Any condition that involves a decrease in deep sleep is linked to an increase in diabetes risk. That is the case for aging and sleep apnea. This study really demonstrates a causal link,” Van Cauter said.
Article from Reuters on Yahoo News:
“Lack of deep sleep may raise diabetes risk”
December 31, 2007
Article from AP on Yahoo News
“Sleep disruptions may up diabetes risk”
January 1, 2008
Article in The Guardian
“Disturbed sleep brings risk of type 2 diabetes, says study”
January 1, 2008
Abstract in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
“Slow-wave sleep and the risk of type 2 diabetes in humans”
January 2, 2008