Sleeping less than 6 hours a night during the work week increases the risk of elevated levels of blood sugar by 4.5 times compared to those who sleep 6 to 8 hours, according to new research findings from the University at Buffalo.

“Impaired fasting glucose—a reading higher than 100—is known as pre-diabetes, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes,” says first author Lisa Rafalson, PhD, of the UB department of family medicine in a press release on the findings. “In fact, about 25% of people who have impaired fasting glucose will at some point develop type 2 diabetes.”

The study included data from an average 6-year follow-up of participants in the Western New York Health study conducted from 1996 to 2001. Results of the study found that “short sleepers,” those who slept less than 6 hours nightly Sunday through Thursday, had a significantly increased risk of progressing from normal glucose levels to pre-diabetes compared to those who slept 6 to 8 hours nightly.

“This study supports growing evidence of the association of inadequate sleep with adverse health issues,” says Rafalson. “Genetic susceptibility is always a possible explanation for this finding, but it is more likely that pathways involving hormones and the nervous system are involved in the impaired-sleep/fasting glucose association.”

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