Role of sleep duration and quality in the risk and severity of type 2 diabetes mellitus

Arch Intern Med. 2006 Sep 18;166(16):1768-74. doi: 10.1001/archinte.166.16.1768.


Background: Evidence from laboratory and epidemiologic studies suggests that decreased sleep duration or quality may increase diabetes risk. We examined whether short or poor sleep is associated with glycemic control in African Americans with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of volunteers with type 2 diabetes interviewed at the University of Chicago Hospitals, Chicago, Ill. The final analysis included 161 participants. Glycemic control was assessed by hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) level obtained from medical charts. Sleep quality was assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Perceived sleep debt was calculated as the difference between preferred and actual weekday sleep duration.

Results: The mean +/- SD sleep duration was 6.0 +/- 1.6 hours, and 71% of the participants were classified as having poor quality sleep (PSQI score >5). We excluded patients with sleep frequently disrupted by pain (n = 39). In patients without diabetic complications, glycemic control was associated with perceived sleep debt but not PSQI score. The predicted increase in HbA1c level for a perceived sleep debt of 3 hours per night was 1.1% above the median. In patients with at least 1 complication, HbA1c level was associated with PSQI score but not perceived sleep debt. The predicted increase in HbA1c level for a 5-point increase in PSQI was 1.9% above the median.

Conclusions: In our sample, sleep duration and quality were significant predictors of HbA1c, a key marker of glycemic control. Combined with existing evidence linking sleep loss to increased diabetes risk, these data suggest that optimizing sleep duration and quality should be tested as an intervention to improve glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Black People
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A