ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Health»
  • Diseases, Disorders & Conditions

What Do Diabetes and Mental Illness Have In Common?

Updated on April 20, 2015

Sleep deprivation

Copyright 2012 - present

Sleep deprivation in recent years has been shown to be related to both diabetes and mental illness.

In addition, a number of research studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to, or contribute to, a number of other health problems. Three of the most widely recognized are: heart disease, weight gain and viral infections.

Sleep Deprivation and the Psychiatric Disorder Connection

A 2007 research study out of Harvard and the University of California, published in Current Biology, demonstrated that sleep deprivation leads to a rewiring of the brain's emotional circuitry.

The study, using MRI, found that sleep-deprived individuals exhibited a neuronal rewiring in the area of the brain that secretes norepinephrine, a precursor of the hormone adrenaline that triggers fight-or-flight reactions.

The area of the brain that exhibits this rewiring is called the amygdala - a section of the midbrain that decodes emotion. After individuals were subjected to sleep deprivation they had an increased adrenaline "fight-or flight" reaction when exposed to disturbing photos.

According to Matthew Walker, from the University of California, Berkeley, one of the lead researchers on the team finds that:

“The emotional centers of the brain were over 60% more reactive under conditions of sleep deprivation than in subjects who had obtained a normal night of sleep. It is almost as though, without sleep, the brain reverts back to a more primitive pattern of activity, becoming unable to put emotional experiences into context and produce controlled, appropriate responses.

He adds: "...clinical evidence has shown that some form of sleep disruption is present in almost all psychiatric disorders. These findings may offer new mechanisms as to why, and provide novel insights into how we can understand and even treat these disorders at a brain level.”

Sleep deprivation can lead to a heightened emotional disruption that could potential lapse into a mental illness or a psychiatric disorder.

Sleep Deprivation and Diabetes

Metabolic and epidemiological research studies indicate that sleep deprivation may play a role in the increased prevalence of diabetes.

A 2007 review article out of the University of Chicago and Université Libre de Bruxelles, summarized the findings from a number of research studies and concluded that sleep deprivation, weight gain and diabetes risk may involve at least three metabolic pathways.

1. Glucose pathway (affects insulin)

2. Leptin pathway (affects appetite)

3. Ghrelin pathway (affects appetite)

Sleep Deprivation and Glucose Levels

A link between sleep and glucose levels has been known now for nearly 15 years.

Research from the Leiden University Medical Center has shown that blood glucose levels are adversely affected by just a single instance of sleep deprivation. The sensitivity to insulin drops by almost a quarter with only four hours of sleep.

Additional research, however, shows that acute (sudden and rapid) total sleep deprivation can be readily corrected following a sleep recovery period and so the affects of acute sleep deprivation causing long-term adverse effects on glucose tolerance are reported to be unlikely.

What happens though with recurrent partial sleep deprivation? Over the long term, it is believed to alter glucose metabolism that can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body is unable to be sufficiently upregulate beta-cell function to compensate for insulin resistance. When that happens, the result is hyperglycemia (blood sugar levels become too high).

One other area of research related to this has been on sleep fragmentation. Researchers are looking into whether disrupted sleep affects metabolic pathways and glucose levels.

Sleep Deprivation and the Loss of Appetite Control

Research studies have shown that when sleep loss leads to impairments in glucose metabolism, alterations in the circulating levels of the hormones "ghrelin" and and "leptin" also occur.

Leptin and ghrelin are involved in appetite regulation and energy expenditure. Ghrelin increases appetite and decreases energy expenditure. Leptin, on the other hand, does the opposite. It inhibits appetite and increases energy expenditure.

Sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and simultaneously decreases leptin hormone levels. The result is that sleep deprived individuals may likely experience an increased appetite alongside a decreased energy expenditure (reduced metabolism).

The direction of causality (loss of appetite control and diabetes) cannot be inferred from many of these studies. While sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain the reverse could also be true - i.e., being overweight or obese can lead to an inability to obtain good quality and/or sufficient amounts of sleep.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 5 years ago from Florida

      This is a great hub for eveyone to read, and the information might help you or a friend.



    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

      Yes, I believe it. Lack of sleep causes weight gain. Without enough sleep, the hormonal balance goes all out of wack -- causing unbalanced blood sugars and insulin levels.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Kelley - you are welcome. I'm glad you found this valuable:) Happy New Year!

    • profile image

      kelleyward 6 years ago

      As a diabetic who is sleep deprived this was valuable information. Thanks

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 6 years ago from Canada

      Wow, what an observation! And it really makes sense. I did not know that lack of sleep was connected with diabetes, but I did know that it was connected with weight gain and obesity, which is closely related to diabetes. Great article ... voted all the up's but funny.

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 6 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      fascinating...before I was diagnosed with diabetes I had terrible nightmares and would awake shaking and in turned out that my blood sugar level was spiking in the middle of the night. Now that I'm on metaformin and a sugar free diet, the symptoms largely disappeared. Very good Hub--and thank you for visiting my gallery!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      @Ruchl - I was the same way. Sleep just seemed like something I could do with a little less of but now I know better and it has made a big difference!

    • Ruchi Urvashi profile image

      Ruchi Urvashi 6 years ago from Singapore

      I am a health enthusiastic and look into my diet and exercise. However, I completely forgot about my sleep. This article opened my eyes and gave me new insight that sleep deprivation can actually affect me in so many ways. I need to work in this direction and sleep more. Thanks for the excellent article.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Just one night of sleep deprivation can make us feel awful,and lose the ability to concentrate. I imagine that a long period of sleep loss can add up to all kinds of trouble. Very interesting hub.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 6 years ago from Minnesota

      Interesting findings Kris. Your article is full of great information and I too will be sharing this with friends.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Pixinot - thanks for stopping by and the vote up. It's been a wonderful community so far and I love reading all the hubs!

    • Pixienot profile image

      Pixienot 6 years ago from Clarksville, Indiana

      Welcome,Kris. I'm 100% positive you are going to be a great asset to Hubpages! Welcome, welcome!!!

      Voted up and useful!!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Frogyfish, Fiddleman, Donna, and Troy - thanks for stopping by!

    • TroyM profile image

      TroyM 6 years ago

      Useful article...Thanks for sharing your ideas on Diabetes and Mental Illness.

    • Donna Sundblad profile image

      Donna Sundblad 6 years ago from Georgia

      This is an excellent hub! Voted up. The link between interrupted sleep and all the problems that may result is very enlightning.

    • profile image

      Fiddleman 6 years ago

      Excellent hub with some great information I wan't aware.

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 6 years ago from Central United States of America

      Your detailed and informative hub is vital and needed information for many. Thanks for sharing this interesting and factual information.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      tsmog - thanks for stopping by. While I'm not a sleep researcher, I do closely follow the published research on the effects of environmental and lifestyle factors and how they affect the onset of disease. (My research these days is focused at the DNA level.) Over the years, it's become really apparent that we (as scientists) need to focus research on how to prevent diseases just as much as finding the next best drug to beat disease.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 6 years ago from Escondido, CA

      My reaction is where is my pillow? I could fill this little white space with questions, yet you have thankfully provided links - awesome. I like how the article flowed leading through the process easily. However, it has thankfully caused reflection as well. I bookmarked this for the links and some research. Two articles on sleep, so does that hint at your research? Shared with some bp friends and I thank you for this helpful information , , ,

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 6 years ago from USA

      Sleep deprivation certainly causes a lot of problems. Great hub, voted up.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Homesteadbound - thanks for stopping by and including this hub in the weekly hub luv!

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      Hello Kris! I have included this story in my hub, Weekly Hub Luv in the Magical Land of HubPages #4. Thanks for such an informative article! -homesteadbound

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Welcome Kellymom1970 - I will be by to check out your first hub (and new ones as the come!)

    • kellymom1970 profile image

      kellymom1970 6 years ago

      Kris Heeter, You are very smart and know many things. Great hub.

      I posted my first hub come see. thanks

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 6 years ago from Indiana

      Susan54 an picklesandrufal - thanks for stopping by, voting up and the comments!

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      I would have connected some of these dots, but not all. Good info. thanks. vote up

    • susan54 profile image

      susan54 6 years ago

      Kris Heeter, What a great hub full of facts I had no idea of the conection.Vote up!!

      come over and check out my flattop haircut hub