According to a new review article published in the British journal The Lancet, doctors should be prescribing sleep to help prevent and treat metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.

We’re Just Not Getting Enough Sleep

The primary problem, according to researchers, is that people just aren’t getting enough sleep, and that a lack of sleep, including a disruption of the body’s normal sleep-wake cycle, has been associated with increased rates of chronic illnesses and even early death.

Researchers have pointed their fingers at a changing approach to life, including a tendency to embrace a 24-hour lifestyle and using tablets, smartphones, and portable gaming devices. They say that this exacerbates the results of other lifestyle changes, such as decreasing levels of physical activity and high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sugar diets.

For decades, we have known about the correlation between poor quality sleep and metabolic disorders, but it is only recently that we have come to understand the causal link: how sleep disturbance affects the body’s ability to metabolize glucose, maintain its energy balance and control food intake.

Are You Getting as Much Sleep as You Think?

Recent surveys have showed that Americans seem to be getting a surprising amount of sleep (more than 8.5 hours a night), but the truth is that this likely doesn’t reflect the actual amount of sleep we’re getting. A 2006 study found that while people thought they were sleeping for 7.5 hours a night, their actual sleep time was measured at around 6 hours a night.

Even worse, people with sleep apnea are getting far less than that, as they are constantly being interrupted by apneic events that wake them regularly during the night. Sleep apnea has been shown to be a contributing risk to obesity and diabetes.

Treating sleep apnea effectively is key to overcoming these disorders. A recent study shows that CPAP treatment may be inadequate for diabetes control. Perhaps oral appliance therapy may be a better match for some people, although studies of its impact on diabetes have yet to be conducted.

If you would like to learn more about how sleep apnea treatment may be able to help you live a healthier life, please call 402-493-4175 for an appointment at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha today.