Insomniacs 'Six Times More Likely To Develop Diabetes' Study Finds

Mutated Sleep Gene Increases Diabetes Risk

The Huffington Post UK   First Posted: 30/01/2012 13:18 Updated: 30/01/2012 13:18

Those who have trouble sleeping at night are six times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, thanks to a faulty 'body clock' gene, according to new research.

The study of 20,000 people, led by Imperial College London and published in Nature Genetics, found a new link between the body’s natural body clock hormone, melatonin, and a gene called MT2, which allows the hormone to work and aids (or disrupts) sleep.

Melatonin control the body’s sleep-wake cycle by inducing a natural drowsiness and temperature-lowering hormone into the system. Scientists discovered that people with a defective version of the MT2 ‘sleep gene’ suffer irregular insulin release, leading to abnormal blood sugar levels, consequently increasing the risk of diabetes.

A mutated version of MT2 also disrupts the link between our circadian rhythm (24 hour body clock), which lead to sleepless nights.

The study examined the MT2 gene in 7,632 people to look for unusual variants that have an effect on diabetes risks. They discovered 40 variants associated with diabetes, four of which were incapable of responding to melatonin.

These genes completely prevented receptors from working with melatonin and had a big effect on diabetes risks, suggesting a direct link between MT2 and diabetes. Carriers of this gene will suffer sleepless nights and be at a high risk of diabetes.

“Blood sugar control is one of the many processes regulated by the body’s biological clock,” explains professor Philippe Froguel from the study.

“This study adds to our understanding of how the gene that carries the blueprint for a key component in the clock can influence people’s risk of diabetes. We found very rare variants of the MT2 gene that have a much larger effect than more common variants discovered before.

“Genetic studies like this one are useful as they can help us understand how a person’s genetic makeup can influence their risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” says Dr Iain Frame from Diabetes UK, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Although this study is suggesting that genes are to blame for sleep disorders and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, there are other ways disturbed sleep can affect our well being and health.

Neuro-Stratologist and sleep specialist at Grayshott Spa, Tej Samani, shares these five little known facts about the health pitfalls of getting no sleep.

  • Two nights of poor sleep can eliminate the hormone in your body that regulates appetite. This could mean you are putting on weight unnecessarily.
  • Poor sleep increases cortisol, which slows the production of collagen meaning you wrinkle faster.
  • Poor sleep makes you less intelligent. Studies have now indicated your IQ declines on each successive day that you sleep less than you normally sleep.
  • Poor sleep means your heart works overtime. Less than seven hours of sleep consistently increases your chance of a heart attack by 100%.
  • One bad night’s sleep leaves you performing like you were legally drunk at a blood alcohol content of 0.08%


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    • 10 Ways To Beat Insomnia

      Expert tips from Cognitive Therapist <strong><a href="http://lesleymccall.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Lesley McCall</a></strong>.

    • Drown It Out

      "If you want to drown out internal chatter try holding the tip of your tongue towards the roof of your mouth without actually touching it until the chatter stops."

    • Wiggle Your Toes

      "It sounds simple (and a little silly) but wriggling your toes while lying in bed until you feel sleepy, helps the body relax."

    • Wait For The Right Moment

      "Only go to bed when you feel tired. If you have been in bed for longer than 30 minutes and you are still awake, get up and do something boring until you feel sleepy again. Don't do something stimulating such as watch TV or eat, as this will send your unconscious the wrong message - that it gets rewarded for not sleeping."

    • Do A 'Brain Dump'

      "Many of us go to bed with worries on our mind that can keep us awake - so get rid of them. Do a 'brain dump' before bed. Spend 10 minutes writing down what is on your mind or compile a 'to-do' list. Keep writing even if you are only jotting down sort notes or long scribbles."  

    • Relax

      "Try and relax for 30 minutes before bed to ensure you get good quality sleep - because remember, it's not just the quantity but quality of your sleep that matters. Try not to take the stress of the day into sleep with you as this will mean that the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is needed for de- stressing the mind, will increase, leaving less time for the slow wave sleep, which refreshes us."

    • No Napping

      "Don't sleep or nap during the day - it confuses you body clock and will make it harder for you to drift off in the evening."

    • Have A Bath

      "Have a warm bath before bedtime. The core drop in temperature when you get out will help you to drift into a deep sleep."

    • Eat Mindfully

      "Be aware of what you eat. Try and have no caffeine after midday, eat regular meals and remember that carbohydrates will help you feel sleepy."

    • Exercise

      "Exercise is an excellent stress buster - but make sure you leave at least three hours between exercise and sleep, to give your body enough time to wind down."

    • Swtich Off (Everything)

      "Reteach your brain to associate bed with sleep. This means eliminating computers, smartphones or TV's from the bedroom."

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