It turns out that consistently taking naps during the day may actually be an indicator of how likely you are to get diabetes. A study showed that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep at night and nap during the day have up to 58% higher chance of getting diabetes. Combine that with the research that shows other side-effects of too little sleep for people with diabetes and there’s a strong case for getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
The Correlation Between Sleep and Diabetes
Researchers looked at the sleep habits of over 13,000 people over the course of two years and identified if they later developed diabetes. The people who did not nap and got 6-8 hours of sleep per night were the least likely to develop diabetes.
“People who napped, but got less than 6 hours of sleep per night ended up with over 50% higher risk of developing diabetes.”
For people who got over 8 hours of sleep consistently, risk of diabetes was extremely high regardless of whether they took naps or not. In line with most recommendations, a regular 6-8 hours of sleep a night is best.
Other Health Issues Could Be the Cause
However, the jury is still out on whether or not napping causes diabetes. Napping frequently while getting very little sleep at night could just be an indicator of failing health. Other health issues like obesity or age could very well be the real causes of diabetes in the study participants. The daytime napping is a symptom that could be an early sign telling you to head to the doctor sooner rather than later.
Daytime Napping and Blood Glucose
On the other hand, there is evidence to support that napping actually does disrupt some of the body’s processes that could lead to diabetes. For instance, one study has demonstrated that daytime napping drastically affects insulin and blood sugar levels and another study showed that napping significantly affects how your body processes glucose. None of these studies conclusively prove that napping is a cause of diabetes, but they do provide some indications that it might be the case.
Whether or not napping causes diabetes, it’s important to keep an eye on your sleep habits. If you find yourself sleeping more during the day and less at night, make a visit to your doctor to see if there could be any issues with your health. They can identify if you just need a more regular sleep schedule, or if there’s something larger going on.
Molly Maloof, MD
Physician, technologist, and entrepreneur
Head of Medical Science at Sano Intelligence
Medical advisor/strategy consultant to over 20 companies in biotechnology, digital health, nutrition, and food industries