Individuals with insomnia and objective short sleep duration are at increased risk for developing diabetes, according to a research abstract presented at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

Results indicate that compared with people who slept six hours or more while being monitored in the sleep laboratory, individuals with insomnia who slept for five or fewer hours had the highest risk of diabetes (odds ratio of 2.95); people with insomnia who slept for five to six hours also had an elevated risk of diabetes (odds ratio of 2.07).

The study gathered data from 1,741 men and women who were randomly selected from Central Pennsylvania; participants were studied in a sleep laboratory. Diabetes was defined based on either fasting blood sugar or treatment. Insomnia was defined by a complaint of insomnia with a duration of at least one year, while "poor sleep" was defined as a complaint of difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or early final awakening. Polysomnographic sleep duration was classified into three categories: people who slept for six or more hours, those who slept five to six hours and those who slept for five hours or less. Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios for diabetes.

According to lead author Alexandros Vgontzas, MD, endowed chair in Sleep Disorders Medicine at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa., patients suffering from insomnia with short sleep duration are at a serious health risk.

"The more severe form of insomnia (insomnia with short objective sleep duration) is associated with a risk for diabetes that is similar to the elevated risk associated with obstructive sleep apnea," said Vgontzas.

Other studies also have found serious medical risks associated with insomnia and objective short sleep duration; another study led by Vgontzas presented at SLEEP 2009 found that insomnia with objective short sleep duration is also associated with increased risk of mortality in men.

According to the study's authors, findings indicate that people with insomnia should seek evaluation and treatment from their medical provider. Although the results suggest that people with insomnia have a lower risk for physical problems if their sleep duration is normal, they still are at risk for depression and may suffer from the behavioral effects of insomnia.

A media fact sheet about insomnia is available from the AASM at

Abstract Title: Insomnia with Objective Short Sleep Duration is Associated with Diabetes Presentation Date: Tuesday, June 9
Category: Sleep Disorders - Insomnia
Abstract ID: 0866

Kelly Wagner
American Academy of Sleep Medicine