Either way, getting better sleep is probably a good idea if you're at risk for diabetes (or even if you're not).
"It's not proven, but basic science shows that lack of sleep can lead to high blood pressure and increased weight, and these alone are risk factors for diabetes development," said Ronald Kramer, MD, the medical director of the Colorado Neurological Institute's Sleep Disorders Center in Englewood, Colo.
Some studies have suggested that sleep-deprived people start eating more calories, "so there's also that linkage in terms of increased weight," he says.
Disturbed sleep may promote insulin resistance
However, sleep disturbances may actually disrupt insulin regulation too. In a 2007 study, Esra Tasali, MD, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues prevented nine young men from entering a deep stage of sleep (known as slow-wave sleep), which is thought to be associated with hormonal changes that affect glucose.
The subjects had a 25% drop in their insulin sensitivity (a loss of insulin sensitivity is a hallmark of type 2 diabetes). The researchers note that slow-wave sleep tends to decline with age and in the obesetwo factors that are also linked to a greater risk of type 2 diabetes.