Skip main navigation


Nicola will discuss how sleep can play a role in the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Lack of sleep is becoming an increasing issue around the world – with societal demands increasing rapidly isn’t it any wonder we find it hard to turn off at night? A significant amount of research suggests that by not getting enough sleep we are at risk of a number of adverse medical dysfunction. In fact, did you know reduced sleep duration has been linked to 7 out of the 15 causes of death in the United State of America including diabetes.

Globally, various age groups suffer from insufficient sleep which has now become under reported, unrecognized and costly.

Recommendation – According to the United States Centers for disease control and prevention adults between the ages of 18 and 60 should get seven or more hours per night.

Statistics – On average, people sleep 6.8 hours per night

So you might be thinking, why is sleep a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes?

Many studies have linked obesity to insufficient sleep which then if you remember back to the lesson about weight can cause insulin production and function. The body responds physiologically to a lack of sleep by eating more to sustain additional wakefulness so its likely an individual will, as a result, consume more than what is required from a energy intake / output point of view.

Ghrelin is a hormone which controls appetite and lets the brain know when the body is hungry. If an individual is sleep deprived, ghrelin increases which then causes a person to want to eat. This can lead to an increase in their body mass index, if this continues the person will end up being overweight or obese over time and are then more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. To help explain this, have a look at the picture below.

Alt text,

In the discussion box below please comment on the following:

  • I mentioned above that societal demands are causing the lack of sleep? Give one or two examples of these?
  • How much sleep do you get on average per night?
  • Is it a priority in your daily schedule that you get enough sleep (what is recommended?)
  • If you don’t get enough, what are some of the reasons why? Do you think you eat more because you don’t get enough sleep?
This article is from the free online

Diabetes Explained

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now