Category Archives: Sleep Issues

Insomnia Increases Risk of Diabetes

Today is World Sleep Day, and in recognition of this day our post will review recent research regarding insomnia as a risk factor for diabetes mellitus type 2.

The statistics for diabetes are a cause for alarm. According to the American DIabetes Association, over 9% of the U.S. population has diabetes, with 1.5 million new cases diagnosed yearly. Over 84 million Americans are classified as pre-diabetic, and are at high risk for progressing into diabetes. The total cost for diabetes for 2017 was estimated at $327 billion.

A research group in the Portland, Oregon area conducted a retrospective cohort study. The participants numbered over 81,000 and all had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, and with and without insomnia. On average the subjects were followed over 4 years. The mean age was 57 1/2 years.

What the researchers discovered was that the subjects who had insomnia had nearly a 30% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to the group that did not have insomnia, even after adjusting for risk factors such as age, body mass index, and cardiovascular issues.

The mechanism by which insomnia increases the risk of diabetes type 2 is not entirely clear, but may involve activation of the sympathetic nervous system (and hence increased stress hormones), increased inflammation in the body, increased appetite, decreased exercise due to fatigue, or perhaps some other factor. It may well involve multiple factors and not just one.

This study is robust- a large number of subjects were enrolled in a real world clinical setting. It examines a modifiable risk factor for diabetes. Those who have ongoing issues with insomnia may well want to consider the possible implications of developing diabetes from their lack of sleep.

“The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

(Source- BMJ Open Diabetes Research&Care, 2018)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Acupuncture for Insomnia

Insomnia Awareness Day is Monday, March 11th. This is an appropriate designation for the day after Daylight Saving Time begins for the year. In recognition of this day, today’s post will examine the use of acupuncture for primary insomnia.

Insomnia is a common disorder among adults. It is estimated that about 30% of adults have brief periods of insomnia, and upwards of 10% of adults have chronic insomnia, lasting more than three months. It has also been estimated that greater than $60 billion is lost yearly in work production due to insomnia. Insomnia is felt to be a factor in worsening mental health disorders, as well in medical disorders such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus type II.

A recently published study looked at using a short course of acupuncture as an intervention for primary insomnia. 72 subjects with primary insomnia were randomized into either a acupuncture treatment group or a sham (fake) acupuncture group. For the acupuncture treatment group, points were used on the scalp, wrist and lower leg. For the sham acupuncture group the same points were used, but the needle tube was only tapped to give the sensation of a needle being placed. The participants wore eye masks so they could not see whether or not needles were in place.

Participants were treated three times each week, for four weeks. Each treatment session lasted thirty minutes. Questionnaires were filled out every two weeks for a total of eight weeks. The primary outcome measure was the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). The ISI is a validated assessment tool, consisting of 7 questions, and scored on a scale of 0 (no significant insomnia) to 28 (severe insomnia). The subjects also completed self-rating anxiety and depression scales, to assess their mental health.

Results of the study showed that the Insomnia Severity Index was significantly improved after receiving acupuncture treatment. Sleep efficiency was improved in the acupuncture group beginning at two-weeks post-treatment. Also, sleep awakenings were significantly lower in the acupuncture group, beginning at four weeks post-treatment.

It also appears that acupuncture can improve mental health, as participants in both groups had lower scores on the self-rating scales for both anxiety and depression, compared to baseline scores. It is also important to note that no one withdrew from the study due to some possible adverse side effect from acupuncture.

The study authors did a good job in setting up the sham or placebo acupuncture in a way to keep it blinded to patients. It would be helpful to know how long these beneficial effects of acupuncture on insomnia last, and if there is a certain frequency or schedule that would be optimal. These may be topics of future research.

We have a seemingly low risk treatment for insomnia, that is worthy of consideration. Perhaps consider acupuncture rather than medication for insomnia next time around.

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”–  W.C. Fields

(Source- Sleep Medicine 37 (2017), pp. 193-200)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.