Lunch time naps increase diabetes risk

Glasgow: Taking regular lunchtime siestas could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the findings of a research study being presented this week at leading health charity Diabetes UK’s Annual Professional Conference in Glasgow.

Researchers¹ looked at the napping habits of 16,480 people and found that diabetes prevalence increased with napping frequency. The study found that those who napped had a 26 per cent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those who never napped.

The researchers believe several factors may be behind the link, including an association between napping and reduced physical activity. In addition, napping during the day may disrupt night-time sleep which could have an impact as short night-time sleep duration has been shown to be associated with increased Type 2 diabetes risk7, 8,9.

Waking up from napping activates hormones and mechanisms in the body that stop insulin working effectively. This could also predispose people to Type 2 diabetes which can develop when the insulin the body makes does not work properly.

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “We know from previous studies that looked at the link between disturbed night sleep patterns and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes that interrupted sleep at night could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. We already know that people who are overweight or obese, and therefore more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, can have problems sleeping. This new research could be another step towards explaining the possible link between disturbed sleep patterns and Type 2 diabetes.

“However, in terms of being major risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes, disturbed sleep or napping are likely to remain less significant than already established risk factors such as being overweight, being over the age of 40 or having a history of diabetes in the family.”

Researcher Dr Shahrad Taheri, from the University of Birmingham, said: “Our research provides us with an additional insight on the risk factors behind Type 2 diabetes. As the number of people with Type 2 diabetes keeps increasing, it is crucial that we do everything we can to help prevent people from developing the condition.”

Diabetes is a serious condition that can lead to long-term complications such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and amputation. Short-term complications include hypoglycaemic episodes, known as ‘hypos’, which can lead to unconsciousness and hospitalisation if left untreated, and persistent high blood glucose levels can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which if untreated can be fatal.

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More information about the research:
Research conducted by scientists from the University of Birmingham and from Guangzhou Hospital, China. S taheri, CQ Jiang, KH Lam, T Arora, WS Zang, KK Cheng, NG Thomas and TH Lam. P16. Napping is associated with increased risk of diabetes: the Guangzhou Biobank Cohort Study.

The Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference (APC) is taking place from 11 to 13 March 2009 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Glasgow. It is the UK’s largest diabetes conference with over 3,000 healthcare professionals attending.

Diabetes UK is the leading charity for the three million people in the UK with diabetes. It is our 75th Anniversary in 2009 and events to mark this special occasion will be taking place around the country. We aim to spend more than £8 million on research in 2009 as well as campaigning and providing information and support.

Up to half a million people in the UK have diabetes but do not know it. During our 75th Anniversary year, we hope you will be able to join in and support us so that we can carry on improving the lives of people with diabetes into the future. For more information visit

In the UK, there are currently 2.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes and it is estimated that up to half a million people have the condition but do not know it.

The Diabetes UK Careline (0845 120 2960) offers information and support on any aspect of managing diabetes. The line is a low cost number and opens Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm (operates a translation service). Recorded information on a number of diabetes-related topics is also available on this number 24 hours a day.

Membership of Diabetes UK is from £23 a year with special rates available. In addition to our bi-monthly magazine Balance, members receive support and the latest information on diabetes care and treatments to help them live a healthy life.

Authors: Spiegel K. Knutson K. Leproult R. Tasali E. Van Cauter E. Title: Sleep loss: a novel risk factor for insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes. [Review] [98 refs] Source: Journal of Applied Physiology. 99(5):2008-19, 2005 Nov.
Authors: Vigg A. Vigg A. Vigg A. Title: Sleep in Type 2 diabetes.[see comment][retraction in Joshi SR. J Assoc Physicians India. 2004 Jul;52:530; PMID: 16189926].
Title: Sleep duration is associated with an increased risk for the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged women – The FIN-D2D survey. [see comment] Sleep Med. 2008 Mar;9(3):219-20; PMID: 17681882