Getting a handle on your diet and making time for exercise are a couple of important steps to controlling obesity and diabetes. But there’s something else you can to do to protect your health—and chances are, it’s the most enjoyable “task” on your healthy to-do list: banking adequate pillow time.
Science is beginning to clearly show that skimping on sleep can increase your risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes. Researchers at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University reviewed 36 recent studies on short sleep duration and weight gain, and found a strong positive correlation between the two. And the evidence mounts: A study at the University of Buffalo in New York found that participants who averaged less than six hours of sleep per night, compared to those who got six to eight hours, were nearly five times more likely to develop impaired fasting glucose over time—a condition that can lead to diabetes.
Ever notice that the vending machine looks extra-appealing the day after you’ve skimped on shuteye? It’s no fluke. University of Chicago researchers found that sleep deprivation makes it harder to control appetite, because levels of ghrelin (the hormone that stimulates hunger) rise while levels of leptin (the hormone that signals when you’ve had enough to eat) drop—creating a double-whammy diet buster. And, of course, when you’re sleepy, you don’t feel much like being active. So, when you miss out on sleep, you initiate a weight-gain cycle. In fact, scientists call sleep loss the "the royal route to obesity"—but actually, it could also be called “the royal route to type 2 diabetes,” because obesity is a major risk factor for developing the disease.