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Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes

by IBD Medical on July 13, 2023


Sleep disruption can have significant metabolic effects and is can be associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Understanding the relationship between sleep, metabolism, and these health conditions is crucial for developing effective interventions and preventive strategies. This article explores the intricate links between sleep disruption, obesity, and diabetes and how to overcome it. 

As we discussed in the article "Complications from lack of Sleephow effects of sleep deprivation, links to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease; here is another chart which explains how obesity is linked to the development of diabetes.

Figure 1-The Intricate Relationship and Pathophysiology Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Diabetes Mellitus (Chattu, V., Chattu, S., Burman, D., Spence, D. and Pandi-Perumal, S, 2019)

As studies by Diabetes Spectrum have provided evidence that OSA independently raises the likelihood and seriousness of type 2 diabetes, irrespective of age and obesity(Doumit, J. and Prasad, B., 2016).

About sleep Apoena:

“Sleep apnea is a common condition in which your breathing stops and restarts many times while you sleep. This can prevent your body from getting enough oxygen.” ( ,2022)

Various studies confirmed that sleep apnoea is more common in people who have both obesity and diabetes. Such studies also showed that sleep apnoea tends to be more severe when someone has both diabetes and obesity. A study conducted in Japan examined the connection between sleep duration and untreated diabetes in men. The findings revealed that a shorter sleep duration was significantly linked to untreated diabetes in both non-obese and obese men (Chattu, V., Chattu, S., Burman, D., Spence, D. and Pandi-Perumal, S. , 2019).

Maintaining metabolic health is essential for reducing the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Here are some key factors to focus on:

    1. Balanced Diet: Adopt a balanced and nutritious diet that includes a variety of whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary beverages, processed foods, and foods high in saturated and trans fats.
    2. Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes and practice mindful eating. Be aware of your body's hunger and fullness cues and avoid overeating.
    3. Regular Physical Activity: Engage in regular physical activity to promote weight management, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance overall metabolic function. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, along with strength training exercises.
    4. Adequate Sleep: Prioritise sufficient sleep duration (7-9 hours for adults) and establish a consistent sleep routine. Good-quality sleep supports metabolic processes, helps regulate appetite hormones, and improves insulin sensitivity.
    5. Stress Management: Chronic stress can negatively impact metabolic health. Implement stress management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in activities you enjoy to reduce stress levels.
    6. Limit Sedentary Behavior: Minimize prolonged periods of sitting or sedentary behavior. Incorporate regular movement throughout the day, take breaks from sitting, and consider standing or walking when feasible.
    7. Hydration: Stay adequately hydrated by consuming water throughout the day. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary beverages and limit alcohol intake.
    8. Regular Health Check-ups: Regularly monitor your health by scheduling routine check-ups with your healthcare provider. This allows for early detection and management of any potential metabolic abnormalities or risk factors. Seeking medical advice and treatment for sleep disorders like sleep apnea is also essential.

Remember, individual needs may vary, so it's important to consult with healthcare professionals, such as doctors and registered dietitians, for personalised advice tailored to your specific circumstances. By adopting a holistic approach to your lifestyle that focuses on healthy eating, regular physical activity, sufficient sleep, stress management, and regular health check-ups, you can support your metabolic health and reduce the risk of obesity and diabetes.


Chattu, V., Chattu, S., Burman, D., Spence, D. and Pandi-Perumal, S. (2019). ‘The Interlinked Rising Epidemic of Insufficient Sleep and Diabetes Mellitus’. Healthcare, 7(1), p.37. doi:

Doumit, J. and Prasad, B. (2016). 'Sleep Apnea in Type 2 Diabetes'. Diabetes Spectrum, [online] 29(1), pp.14–19. doi:

Nedeltcheva, A.V. and Scheer, F.A.J.L. (2014). Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes. Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity, 21(4), pp.293–298. doi: (2022). Sleep Apnea - What Is Sleep Apnea? | NHLBI, NIH. [online] Available at:



Kelsie Patterson courageously faced her own diagnosis of type 1 diabetes with determination and drive, pushing her to pursue a multi-disiplinary approach to become a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care & Educator Specialist, and Certified Personal Trainer. Her passion for helping others motivated her to start "The Diabetes Dietitian" where she works directly with people managing type 1 diabetes to gain control over their blood sugars in order to achieve any life goals.


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