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Is There a Link Between Metabolic Disorders and Sleep?

What are Metabolic Disorders?

Metabolic Syndrome or metabolic disorders is referred to as a collection of factors that increase an individual’s risk for becoming diabetic, have a stroke or a cardiac illness(1).

Being overweight or obese, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and hyperglycemia are some of those factors, which when occur in tandem can result in what is termed as metabolic disorder(1).

This collection of abnormalities, which are metabolic disorders, is believed to be affecting more than 30% of normal population above the age of 20 in the United States alone. This number of people suffering from metabolic disorders increases to a staggering 60% in people above the age of 50.

Among other factors that can lead to metabolic disorders, the most stunning is the duration of sleep an individual gets at night. This article is all about the relationship between metabolic disorders and sleep.

Is There a Link Between Metabolic Disorders and Sleep?

Is There a Link Between Metabolic Disorders and Sleep?

An online study published by a leading Endocrinology Institute in the United States pointed to a startling link between metabolic disorders and sleep duration. In this study, which collected data from the past five years, showed approximately 20% of subjects had metabolic disorder. However, the startling fact was that the numbers doubled to around 40% in people, who did not get regular eight hours of sleep; and close to 90% in people who did not sleep for more than six hours at night.

As a matter of fact, this is not the only study, which has linked metabolic disorders to sleep. There are many studies like this online which highlight this fact. Another study done in England found out that around 75% of people with OSA or obstructive sleep apnea ended up having metabolic syndrome. It also showed that people who used CPAP as a mode of treatment for sleep apnea showed a 20% improvement in their metabolic disorders.

Another study done solely on Army personnel discovered that soldiers who had short or troubled sleep ended up having diabetes some time in their life. This further stamps the proof that sleep is an important factor when it comes to having metabolic disorders. It proves that along with other environmental and genetic factors, the amount of sleep that an individual gets at night also plays a crucial role in development of metabolic disorders(2, 3, 4, 5).

The cause of this is believed to be the stress that is caused due to fragmented or interrupted sleep, which causes overproduction of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline(6). These hormones have been known to increase the sugar levels in the body along with increasing blood pressure and increased weight.

To summarize, it has been established beyond doubt that there is a strong link between sleep and metabolic disorders(2, 3, 4, 5). Also has been established is the fact that sleep is also important for cardiovascular health. Physicians nowadays advise more patients on the importance of a restful sleep for overall health of the individual.

More and more physicians are now asking patients to fill out questionnaires related to sleep to check for any underlying problems, which might lead to certain medical conditions down the line. This in fact has become a routine for physicians, which many believe is an excellent approach towards identifying people who are risk for developing metabolic syndrome.

Thus, it is imperative for all of us especially people who have a family history of metabolic disorders to give due attention to their sleep patterns and to contact their physicians if they feel they are not getting enough of it.


So, we can conclude without doubt that the link between metabolic disorders and sleep is quite important, where a person who gets less sleep or irregular sleep or decreased quality of sleep is at increased risk of getting metabolic disorders(2, 3, 4, 5).


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 1, 2019

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