Lack Of Sleep Increases Insulin Resistance In Women, Study Finds
Insulin resistance does not often cause symptoms but is a key precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Many doctors also opt out of insulin resistance testing given the complexity and price of the test.
When it comes to preventing insulin resistance, most experts will recommend eating healthily, exercising, and managing your weight—however, new research proposes another factor that's especially important for older women.
Chronic insufficient sleep impairs insulin sensitivity
The sneaky factor: sleep. According to a new study published in the Diabetes Care Journal, women who got an average of 6.2 hours of sleep each night over the six-week study saw impaired insulin sensitivity, independent of body fat percentage.
A group of 38 women between the ages of 25 and 75 participated in the study, 11 of whom were postmenopausal. Each woman in the group reported habitual sleep time between seven and nine hours pre-study.
Researchers state that sleep's impact on insulin sensitivity was significant among the whole group but even more so for postmenopausal women.
Unfortunately, postmenopausal women are simultaneously more at risk for sleep-onset insomnia disorder (having trouble falling asleep but not staying asleep) than premenopausal women, according to previous research.
These findings may encourage health care providers to learn more about the sleep habits of their patients, including postmenopausal women, and see chronic lack of sleep as a potential risk factor for insulin resistance.
Why this matters for diabetes prevention
Depending on your personal sleep habits, getting roughly six hours a night may sound pretty standard. The CDC estimates 33.2% of adults in the U.S. qualify for "short sleep,"1 meaning they get less than seven hours each night.
Now, this isn't to say that sleep is the only (or most important) thing to pay attention to to prevent diabetes and insulin resistance–diet and exercise play significant roles here.
Prioritizing your sleep is never a bad idea
This research shows just how important this nightly recharge is, for insulin sensitivity and so much more. While more research is certainly needed to confirm these findings in other groups, prioritizing your sleep is never a bad idea.
A new study from the Diabetes Care Journal found that women who got an average of 6.2 hours of sleep each night had impaired insulin sensitivity independent of body fat percentage, with even more significant changes for postmenopausal women. Simply put: Sleep is incredibly important for preventing insulin resistance and for supporting overall health. Not sure why you can't seem to clock a full night's rest? Troubleshoot your sleep issues with these common causes.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.