Everyone knows that sleep is important. Likewise, it’s well known that many people don’t get enough sleep. Aside from making you tired, there is reason to believe that a lack of sleep might also increase your diabetes risk.
A Nighttime Hormone
So you might be asking yourself, “What exactly is melatonin?” To summarize, melatonin is a hormone released by a small gland in your brain, known as the pineal gland. Believe it or not, this hormone release corresponds to the time of day, as the pineal gland only kicks into action once the sun has gone down.
Generally speaking, melatonin starts to be released into your bloodstream around 9PM. As a result, we begin to feel tired and less alert, and most people decide to get to bed.
Diabetes and Melatonin
According to a study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), low sleep time production of melatonin could impact a person’s diabetes risk. The BWH team came to this conclusion using data from 370 diabetic participants in the Nurses’ Health Study, a long-running health research project. In addition, they also reviewed data from a control group of equal size.
When comparing these groups, the importance of melatonin came into sharp focus; type 2 diabetes was twice as likely to appear in subjects with low levels of melatonin produced during sleep. Even when other factors were taken into consideration (such as exercise levels and familial diabetic history), the gap remained intact.
Dr. Ciaran McMullan, a researcher in the Renal Division and Kidney Clinical Research Institute at BWH, had this to say in response to the study; “This is the first time that an independent association has been established between nocturnal melatonin secretion and type 2 diabetes risk. Hopefully this study will prompt future research to examine what influences a person’s melatonin secretion and what is melatonins role in altering a person’s glucose metabolism and risk of diabetes.”