Quantity and quality of sleep as a potential target to prevent diabetes in the general population  » Luxembourg Institute of Health
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Quantity and quality of sleep as a potential target to prevent diabetes in the general population 

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09 Juni 2021 3minuten

New evidence links sleeping patterns to metabolic profiles

A collaborative effort from the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), the University of Western Ontario (Canada), Aarhus University (Denmark), the Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus (Denmark), the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL) and the Directorate of Health (Luxembourg), led by Dr Gloria A. Aguayo from the LIH Department of Population Health (DoPH), was the first to show a link between poor sleep quality and duration, and impaired glycaemic control. The results, published in Diabetes & Metabolism in May 2021, highlight the relevance of measuring sleep patterns as key factors in the prevention of diabetes.     

Diabetes mellitus is a leading cause of disability and premature death. In addition to traditional lifestyle factors, new evidence is shedding light on a potential link between sleep quality and quantity, glycaemic control and insulin sensitivity. However, there is a current lack of data substantiating this claim.

In this context, Dr Gloria Aguayo, Scientist within the Deep Digital Phenotyping Research Unit of DoPH, compared the potential of objective and subjective measures of sleep to predict dysfunctional glycaemic control in a general adult population. To do this, Dr Aguayo and her team analysed data from the “Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg” (ORISCAV-LUX2), a study including 1,558 participants from the general population in Luxembourg. The study collected results from periodic surveys about physical and mental health parameters, a self-reported questionnaire, as well as sleep measurements obtained via an accelerometer that participants agreed to wear for one week. Sleep parameters were then divided into both subjective and objective measures.

The analysis showed that better sleep quality was associated with better levels of HbA1c, a marker of glycaemic control reflecting a period of 2 to 3 months. “This study highlights that objective and subjective measures of sleep are key complementary factors to consider, as they provide relevant additional information on subgroups of the population,” explains Dr Aguayo. When comparing subjective versus objective markers of sleep, objective markers, measured with accelerometers, were more frequently associated with glycaemic control. Interestingly, the study results also suggest that the association between sleep characteristics and impaired glycaemic control are stronger in men and in people suffering from depression or who are overweight.

Ultimately, these findings should help to better characterise the association of sleep on metabolic health in the general population and to design more tailored interventions and prevention strategies for dysglycaemia or type 2 diabetes

says Dr Aguayo.

„In the future, medical devices or smartphone apps that measure physical activity and sleep may thus take advantage of this knowledge and could warn individuals in advance on the risk of incipient diabetes due to abnormal sleep patterns“.

The study, authored by Dr Gloria A. Aguayo, was published on the 20th May 2021 in the renowned journal Diabetes & Metabolism, with the full title “Objective and subjective sleep measures are associated with HbA1c and insulin sensitivity in the general population: findings from the ORISCAV-LUX-2 study”.

Scientific Contact

  • Dr Gloria
    Scientist, Deep Digital Phenotyping Research Unit

    Department of Population Health Luxembourg Institute of Health


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