In his study, researchers monitored 21 healthy people, who all live in a sleep laboratory for nearly six weeks, in which the cycles of sleep, diet and activity are all controlled by researcher.
The findings showed that participants who are only allowed to sleep about six hours a night and experienced a shift in the cycle sleep/wake has a blood sugar level is higher and tends to slow down the metabolic process.
"The level of glucose that higher for long periods of time on some of the participants could be increased to pre-diabetes," said the researcher. These findings were published on 11 April 2012 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Sleep and blood sugarIn the study, researchers conducted blood tests to measure levels of several hormones, including insulin, cortisol (stress related), and leptin and ghrelin (which relate to regulate appetite).
They found that disrupted sleep schedules cause a decrease in 32 percent of the amount of insulin released in the body after eating. Insulin is a key hormone in the regulation of blood sugar.
"The decline in insulin levels is one explanation of how the disruption or lack of sleep can cause diabetes," said Lisa Rafalson, a professor of pediatrics and family medicine at the University at Buffalo.
Rafalson revealed an increase in stress hormones that kept awake the body can cause hormonal imbalances. "Insulin can not perform their duties efficiently, so you end up getting the remaining excess glucose in the bloodstream," he said.
While the latest findings, the researchers did not notice any changes in hormone levels gheriln (which increases appetite) on the sleep-deprived participants. Whereas some previous studies showed that sleep deprivation can lead to higher levels of the hormone ghrelin and leptin are lower.
Related to these findings, Fonseca said, researchers need to find out if there is a solution to prevent the increased risk of diabetes in addition to sleep more.
"The reality is that many people who sleep less because they work. We need to identify if there is anything else they can do to fix it," he said.