If you are not getting enough sleep, it may not be just tiredness and crankiness you have to deal with. You may be at risk of diabetes too. A recent research in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports of a link between low levels of melatonin at night with increased risk of adult onset diabetes.
When you sleep, your body produces melatonin. It functions to regulate your “body clock”.
So this research compared 2 groups of women of the same age and race. One group was diabetic and the other wasn’t. They measured the amount of melatonin that was produced at night by these women and interestingly, those that were diabetic had lower levels of melatonin.
When I read this, I wondered if lower levels of melatonin puts someone at risk of diabetes or being diabetic caused a person to produce less melatonin. Unfortunately, no one can answer that yet. All they’re saying is a link has been established. At this stage, we cannot jump to the conclusion that one causes the other.
You might be interested to know of another study that established a connection between sleep time and diabetes. In this study, researchers manipulated the amount of sleep of the individuals. Some were made to sleep less or changes were made to the time of day they could sleep. Just by disrupting the individuals sleep, researchers were able to almost induce a pre-diabetic state. However, their glucose metabolism became normal again when the individuals went back to their normal sleep.
So, what does this all mean?
Well, definitely more studies need to be done. However, it is exciting because this may be a new way to battle diabetes. Instead of just focusing on diet, it might be helpful to also increase our melatonin levels. But don’t go all out and start popping melatonin supplements just yet. Of course you can try if you want but just know that research in this area is still very young. There are still lots of questions that the researchers have yet to figure out. For one, they don’t quite know the best way to reproduce normal melatonin levels at night.
Anyway, this link between melatonin levels and diabetes should be specially interesting for those that work night shifts, have insomnia, night partiers or workaholics that don’t get enough sleep.