Sleep disturbances compared to traditional risk factors for diabetes development: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Sleep Med Rev. 2016 Dec;30:11-24. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2015.10.002. Epub 2015 Oct 21.


Sleep disturbances [short (<6 h) and long (>8 h) sleeping time, insomnia (initiating or maintaining sleep), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and abnormal sleep timing] have been associated with increased diabetes risk but the effect size relative to that of traditional risk factors is unknown. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to compare the risk associated with sleep disturbances to traditional risk factors. Studies were identified from Medline and Scopus. Cohort studies measuring the association between sleep disturbances and incident diabetes were eligible. For traditional risk factors (i.e., overweight, family history, and physical inactivity), systematic reviews with or without meta-analysis were included. Thirty-six studies (1,061,555 participants) were included. Pooled relative risks (RRs) of sleep variables were estimated using a random-effect model. Pooled RRs of sleeping ≤5 h, 6 h, and ≥9 h/d were respectively 1.48 (95%CI:1.25,1.76), 1.18 (1.10,1.26) and 1.36 (1.12,1.65). Poor sleep quality, OSA and shift work were associated with diabetes with a pooled RR of 1.40 (1.21,1.63), 2.02 (1.57, 2.61) and 1.40 (1.18,1.66), respectively. The pooled RRs of being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, and being physically inactive were 2.99 (2.42,3.72), 2.33 (1.79,2.79), and 1.20 (1.11,1.32), respectively. In conclusion, the risk of developing diabetes associated with sleep disturbances is comparable to that of traditional risk factors. Sleep disturbances should be considered in clinical guidelines for type 2 diabetes screening.

Keywords: Diabetes; Family history of diabetes; Insomnia; Obstructive sleep apnea; Overweight; Physical activity; Shift work; Sleep duration; Sleep quality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology*