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Insufficient Sleep May Lower Insulin Sensitivity

Decreased insulin sensitivity observed in men who slept less than five hours per night for a week

THURSDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- One week's sleep restriction decreases insulin sensitivity significantly in healthy subjects, raising questions about the effect chronic short sleep duration could have on insulin resistance-related disease processes, according to research published in the September issue of Diabetes.

Orfeu M. Buxton, Ph.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues administered 300 mg/day of modafinil or placebo to 20 healthy men (aged 20 to 35 years, body mass index from 20 to 30 kg/m²) who spent 10 nights in bed at least eight hours followed by seven nights in bed only five hours. Their objective was to study the effect of decreased sleep on insulin sensitivity and assess the effectiveness of modafinil for increasing alertness during waking hours.

The researchers found that insulin sensitivity, as derived by intravenous glucose tolerance test, fell by a mean of 20 percent after sleep restriction, with no significant alteration in insulin secretory response. Insulin sensitivity assessed by euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp was also lower, by a mean 11 percent. Likewise, glucose tolerance and disposition index were lowered by restricted sleep. Modafinil did not appear to have an impact on any of these outcomes.

"Sleep restriction (five h/night) for one week significantly reduces insulin sensitivity, raising concerns about effects of chronic insufficient sleep on disease processes associated with insulin resistance," the authors write.

The study was supported in part by Cephalon Inc.

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