Short-term moderate sleep restriction decreases insulin sensitivity in young healthy adults

Published:January 11, 2016DOI:


      Context and purpose

      The literature suggests that severe sleep loss of more than a few hours a night decreases glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. The aim of this study was to determine whether moderate sleep restriction had similar effects.


      Fifteen healthy non-obese (body mass index = 24.5 ± 3.4 kg/m2) young adults (20.6 ± 1.3 years) completed two 2-hour oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTTs): one was after 3 days of time-in-bed restriction by 1 to 3 hours each night, and the other was after 3 days of ad libitum sleep. Glucose and insulin concentrations during OGTT and fasting glucagon and cortisol concentrations were determined. The homeostasis model of insulin resistance, Matsuda index, and the quantitative insulin sensitivity check index were calculated.


      The total time-in-bed during the sleep restriction and the ad libitum phase was 5.98 ± 0.76 and 7.98 ± 0.54 hours/day, and total sleep time was 5.16 ± 0.49 and 6.65 ± 0.64 hours/day, respectively. Glucose concentrations before and 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes after consumption of glucose and area under the curve were not different for the 2 OGTTs (P > .10 for all). Insulin concentration at fasting and area under the curve during the OGTT were significantly higher (P = .034 and .038, respectively) after restricted sleep than after ad libitum sleep. Fasting glucagon concentration was also higher (P = .003). The homeostasis model of insulin resistance, Matsuda index, and quantitative insulin sensitivity check index all suggested decreased insulin sensitivity after restricted sleep.


      Short-term moderate sleep restriction reduced insulin sensitivity compared to ad libitum sleep in this group of healthy young adults.


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