Lack of sleep is the primary cause of type 2 diabetes; say Indian experts

Obesity is a contributory factor, but along with diabetes is symptomatic of ‘metabolic syndrome’ in which the body produces excess sugar, cholesterol and fats.


There are over 66 million diabetic patients in India, a constituency second only to China (with 114 million diabetics) roughly equating to the entire population of the UK.

Over a million adult Indians die each year from diabetes or diabetes related causes.

So when the foremost experts in a country facing an illness on that scale decide to share their findings and their thoughts with the rest of the world, we would all do well to listen.

They seem to agree that sleep, rather than weight, is the primary driver,

Emphasising that several new researches have concluded that people who report five hours of sleep or less are more likely to have diabetes, compared to those who sleep for 7 to 8 hours per night, a leading consultant stated that it was clear that continuous sleep deprivation is related to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, which increases the chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

Going to sleep late at nights could increase chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Adults who get less than the recommended amount of sleep may not have adequate control of normal sugar levels.

An analysis by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) recently revealed that changes in lifestyle resulting in lack of sleep were among the top reasons behind the occurrence of type 2 diabetes.

So far as weight gain and obesity were concerned, they also considered sleeplessness a major cause.

Lack of sleep makes people physically and mentally tired, during which time the body produces extra hormones that stimulate appetite, thereby piling up on more calories and carbohydrates to get a quick energy boost. These people are more likely to display impaired glucose tolerance.

And it can lead to a vicious circle of behaviours in which being overweight causes snoring and sleep apnoea.

According to this theory diabetes is just one among a number of other major health complications that includes high blood sugar, high cholesterol, extra fat around the midsection, high blood pressure and excess amounts of fats in the blood – all together known as metabolic syndrome finding its root in erratic sleeping patterns.

As the doctors are keen to point out, there are many factors which come together to ‘cause’ type 2 diabetes, but perhaps in the western model not enough emphasis has been placed on a lack of sleep.

Perhaps we should wake up to that.



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