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Napping increases risk of diabetes

Taking regular lunchtime siestas could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the findings of a research study being presented this week at Diabetes UK’s Annual Professional Conference in Glasgow. 

Researchers at the University of Birmingham looked at the napping habits of 16,480 people and found that diabetes prevalence increased with napping frequency, and those who napped had a 26 per cent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those who never napped.

Sleep's links with Type 2 risk

The researchers believe that an association between napping and reduced physical activity may be behind the link. Napping during the day may also disrupt night-time sleep. Short night-time sleep duration has already been associated with increased Type 2 diabetes risk.

Waking's effect on insulin's effectiveness

In addition, waking up from napping activates hormones and mechanisms in the body that stop insulin working effectively.

This could also predispose people to Type 2 diabetes, which can develop when the insulin the body makes does not work properly.

Building on past findings

“We know from previous studies, which looked at the link between disturbed night sleep patterns and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, that interrupted sleep at night could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes," said Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK.

"We already know that people who are overweight or obese, and therefore more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, can have problems sleeping. This new research could be another step towards explaining the possible link between disturbed sleep patterns and Type 2 diabetes.

Less significant than established risk factors

“However, in terms of being major risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, disturbed sleep or napping are likely to remain less significant than already established risk factors such as being overweight, being over the age of 40 or having a history of diabetes in the family.”

Additional insight

Researcher Dr Shahrad Taheri, from the University of Birmingham, said: “Our research provides us with an additional insight on the risk factors behind Type 2 diabetes.

"As the number of people with Type 2 diabetes keeps increasing, it is crucial that we do everything we can to help prevent people from developing the condition.”

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