Not getting enough sleep isn’t good for your health. But what if you get too much sleep?
In a study now featured in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, researchers asked the same question–and their findings aren’t good news for those at risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to senior author Femke Rutters, men who got more than 7 hours of sleep per night, considered excessive, had higher blood sugar levels, increasing their risk of diabetes. However, it did not matter if women slept just as long, a fact that puzzles researchers.
It appears the diabetes link now has a gender component.
“Due to the nature of the study, further work is needed to confirm these findings, and understand why the differences in sleep didn’t appear to affect women,” says Dr. Elizabeth Robertson, a Diabetes UK director of research who did not participate in the study. “Importantly, we know that the risk of type 2 diabetes can be reduced by maintaining a healthy weight, through taking regular exercise and eating a healthy balanced diet. This research suggests that it’s because too much or too little sleep affects the body’s ability to respond to the levels of glucose in the blood, and the researchers found that this was specific to men.”
While researchers aren’t sure why women aren’t affected by poor sleeping habits, they suspect it has to do with sleep quality. Men face health problems that affect sleep quality more often than women, for instance; they’re also less likely to experience restorative sleep, believed to have better mental and physical benefits.
Bottom line? If you’re a man, getting too little or too much sleep is a huge diabetes risk factor.
“Many studies have now highlighted a potential link between abnormal sleep patterns and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, but we have yet to establish why,” says Robertson.