A Korean study has indicated that sleeping for six hours or less each night can increase your risk of developing lifestyle related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. We also know that getting inadequate sleep can lead to weight gain – which is another risk factor for the afore mentioned conditions.
This combination of risk factors – including high blood sugar, high cholesterol, extra fat around the midsection, high blood pressure and excess amounts of fats in the blood – is known as metabolic syndrome. “The ‘short’ sleepers should be aware of the risks of developing metabolic syndrome, which could lead them to suffer from life threatening and chronic diseases,” lead author Dr. Jang Young Kim of Yonsei University in South Korea said.
The study took in to consideration the participant’s current and past medical history.
As well as putting them through medical examinations to rule out any existing conditions or risk factors. Those who failed to get a minimum of six hours sleep had a significantly higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome including excess weight, hypertension and high blood glucose levels.
Kim’s team followed about 2,600 adults for more than two years and found that participants who didn’t get at least six hours of sleep a night were 41 percent more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than individuals who got six to eight hours of shuteye. After an average follow-up of 2.6 years, about 560 people in the study, or 22 percent of participants, developed metabolic syndrome, according to the results in the journal Sleep.
Short sleep duration was linked to about 30 percent increased risk of high blood sugar and excess belly fat, as well as 56 percent higher odds of hypertension, compared to those who slept longer.
The study had some limitations in that it relied on participants to accurately and honestly report on sleeping habits, medical history and lifestyle. There is no guarantee that this information is correct, however, there have been numerous other studies that show a link between poor sleep and an increased risk of weight gain/ disease.
“Still, the findings are consistent with other studies that have found an association between sleep duration, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome,” said Kristen Knutson, a sleep researcher at the University of Chicago who wasn’t involved in the study. “The strength of this study is that it is a prospective study, which means short sleep was associated with the development of metabolic syndrome,” Knutson said by email. “This is important because the sleep duration was measured before the people had the disease.”
In our current fast- paced environment, people should be aware of this association and should make sleep a priority. This can be difficult with work, study and school but it could make a big difference to quality of life in the long run.
“We don’t know yet if it is possible to reverse the effects of too little sleep,” Knutson added. “Still, adopting a healthy lifestyle which includes appropriate sleep, a healthy diet and sufficient exercise will be beneficial to your health.”