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.
- 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%