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Lie-ins ‘could raise diabetes risk’

Lie-ins ‘could raise diabetes risk’

Before you enjoy yet another lazy sleep-in this weekend, be warned that it may be increasing your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Everyone looks forward to days free from work or other commitments, and catching up on lost sleep can be a real treat. However, researchers are now claiming that even small changes to the time you get up each day could damage your health.

It has been known for some time that people who work shifts and experience constant disruption to their natural body clock (also known as circadian system) are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and heart disease than those who have regular working hours. Now it seems that waking up early during the week to go to work and then having a lie-in at the weekends could also be detrimental.

The study scrutinised the sleeping patterns of 447 men and women aged 30 to 54, who worked for at least 25 hours outside their home. Each participant had to wear a wristband to track their movement and sleep every day for a week, while questionnaires were used to examine their diet and exercise patterns.

Individuals who showed a greater difference in their sleep schedules on work days compared to days off were more likely to have a larger waist circumference, higher body mass index, higher fasting insulin levels and poorer cholesterol profiles. Almost 85 per cent had a later halfway point in their sleep cycle on their free days, compared to when they had to work.

“Social jetlag refers to the mismatch between an individual’s biological circadian rhythm and their socially-imposed sleep schedules,” Dr Patricia Wong, from the University of Pittsburgh in the US, said. “This is the first study to show that even among healthy, working adults who experience a less extreme range of mismatches in their sleep schedule, social jetlag can contribute to metabolic problems.

“These can contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

The research, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, showed that people who got up at different times during the week were found to have raised levels of fat in their blood.

“We may need to consider as a society how work and social obligations affect our sleep and health,” added Dr Wong.

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