Is Your Alarm Clock Making You Sick? — Sleep Cycles May Be Linked To Diabetes, Study Reveals

If you’re like most Americans jolted awake throughout the workweek, you probably enjoy sleeping in on days off.  But, this drastic change in sleep patterns could actually increase your risk for diabetes, according to one study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh.

In the study, researchers examined the phenomena they call, “social jet lag” that occurs when one sleep cycle throughout the workweek is followed by a completely different sleep schedule on days off.  Much like a cross-country flight that takes the body through many different time zones, changing sleep cycles abruptly can disrupt natural biological circadian rhythms. “Social jet lag is a habitual form of circadian misalignment, when individuals have to essentially sleep and wake at times that are out of synch from their internal, biological clock and shift back and forth in their sleep schedules due to social obligations,” says the study’s author, Patricia Wong of the University of Pittsburgh.

The Findings

After examining a group of 450 middle-aged adults who reported dramatically different sleep routines on workdays, and days off, Wong found that these individuals were more likely to have health issues, including diabetes. 

Participants tended to have extra girth around the midsection, as well as higher levels of sugar and fat in the blood.  They also had lower levels of high-density lipoprotein, (HDL) which helps protect blood vessels.  According to Wong, the results of the university study don’t prove that changing sleep cycles leads to diabetes (or any other medical condition) definitively, but the corollary does deserve closer look.

The study that included 30 to 54 year olds who worked at least 25 hours a week outside of the home monitored individuals’ sleep patterns with tracking devices for seven days.  The majority of the participants (85%) experienced the midpoint in their sleep cycle later on days they didn’t work. While more research is needed in the area of social jet lag and health, Dr. Till Roenberg, a phycology researcher at the University of Munich applauds the study.

“We had already known from various epidemiological and experimental studies that metabolism-and especially glucose/insulin metabolism- is challenged by living against one’s clock…The links between body mass index, metabolic syndromes, and cardiovascular pathologies are well established, so this new report was a welcome support of earlier findings.”

Diabetes Facts

About 9% of Americans reportedly have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.  Without treatment many suffer a myriad of symptoms including:

Urinating frequently

Extreme thirst

Increased appetite

Blurred vision

Abrasions or bruises that have difficulty healing

Numbness or tingling in hands or feet

How It Occurs

When we eat, the body naturally converts the food we ingest to glucose, which can then be used for energy.  In healthy individuals the pancreas produces the hormone, insulin that transports glucose to cells.  Diabetes either restricts insulin production, or its efficiency moving glucose into the cells.  It is the excess sugar in the blood that causes damage to the body.  If left untreated, diabetes can cause serious medical conditions such as:

  • Heart disease
  • Blindness
  • Kidney failure
  • Loss of toes, feet, or legs
  • Even death

Natural Diabetic Support

Supplemental natural support may aid in the prevention or management of diabetes. 


This formula supports cardiovascular and immune health, as well as weight control.


Aids in glucose metabolism needed for insulin production.  Supports healthy blood sugar levels.


This antioxidant works to protect the body from damaging free radicals.

While dramatic changes in sleep patterns may put individuals at higher risk for diabetes, more research is needed on the effects of social jet lag.  Early detection and education is key to preventing and managing the disease.

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