Sleep Duration and Diabetes Risk: Population Trends and Potential Mechanisms

Curr Diab Rep. 2016 Nov;16(11):106. doi: 10.1007/s11892-016-0805-8.


Sleep is important for regulating many physiologic functions that relate to metabolism. Because of this, there is substantial evidence to suggest that sleep habits and sleep disorders are related to diabetes risk. In specific, insufficient sleep duration and/or sleep restriction in the laboratory, poor sleep quality, and sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea have all been associated with diabetes risk. This research spans epidemiologic and laboratory studies. Both physiologic mechanisms such as insulin resistance, decreased leptin, and increased ghrelin and inflammation and behavioral mechanisms such as increased food intake, impaired decision-making, and increased likelihood of other behavioral risk factors such as smoking, sedentary behavior, and alcohol use predispose to both diabetes and obesity, which itself is an important diabetes risk factor. This review describes the evidence linking sleep and diabetes risk at the population and laboratory levels.

Keywords: Circadian; Diabetes; Insomnia; Obesity; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology*
  • Energy Intake
  • Ghrelin / blood
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Leptin / blood
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology


  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin