The findings suggest that people who accumulate sleep debt during weekdays and make up for lost sleep over the weekend may risk metabolic disruption, which may promote the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
“While previous studies have shown that short sleep duration is associated with obesity and diabetes, we found that as little as 30 minutes a day sleep debt can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance at follow up,” said lead study author Shahrad Taheri, professor of medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Doha.
“This reinforces earlier observations that sleep loss is additive and can have metabolic consequences,” Taheri noted.
The researchers recruited 522 patients with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes mellitus in the Early Activity in Diabetes trial and randomised them into one of three groups: usual care, physical activity intervention, or diet and physical activity intervention.
Participants completed seven-day sleep diaries and calculated their weekday sleep debt.
At baseline, compared with participants who had no weekday sleep debt, those who had weekday sleep debt were 72 percent more likely to be obese, and by the six-month mark, weekday sleep debt was significantly associated with obesity and insulin resistance.
At 12 months, for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt at baseline, the risk of obesity and insulin resistance was significantly increased by 17 percent and 39 percent, respectively.
The results were presented at ENDO 2015, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.