Metabolic Syndrome Linked to Extremes of Sleep

Originally written: June 2008
Updated: April 2018

Both short and long sleepers are at higher risk for developing metabolic syndrome, a condition that can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to a 2008 study.

A “short sleeper” is someone who sleeps less than six hours per night, on average. A “long sleeper” is someone who sleeps more than the recommended eight hours per night.

According to a study of 1,214 individuals between 30-54 years of age, being a short or long sleeper made metabolic syndrome more than 45% more likely to develop. 20% of study participants were short sleepers, while 8% were long sleepers.

Metabolic syndrome is a label given to a combination of symptoms and conditions that often lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Some of the characteristics of metabolic syndrome include insulin resistance, obesity and high blood pressure.

According to study author, Dr. Marica Hall, “on average, the odds of having the metabolic syndrome were nearly doubled in men and women who slept less than six hours, compared to those who slept between seven and eight hours per night.” Seven to eight hours of sleep per night is the clinically recommended amount, and this study further emphasizes the need for a regular and sufficient sleep schedule.

Original Source: Arcuri, Jim. Hall, Marica. Sleep press release. May 2008.

Update: A 2015 comprehensive meta-analysis study of sleep as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes confirmed that both too little and too much sleep increases risk of type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome remains one of the largest risk factors for developing both type 2 diabetes and heart disease..


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