A recent study published in Natural Genetics has found new evidence in the link between the hormone melatonin which regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle and Type 2 diabetes. Research conducted previously has found that people who work night shifts are at a slightly increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. Other studies have also shown that if a participants sleep pattern was disturbed for more than three days, they temporarily developed symptoms of diabetes.

Questioning a person with diabetes whether they have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes who attends a clinic as part of the consultation process, on their sleep patterns is always a useful guide in assessing not only a causative factor for developing diabetes, but also their stress levels and risk of sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea.

The study which was conducted by the School of Public Health at Imperial College London found that blood sugar control is one of many of the bodies processes that is known to be regulated by melatonin. Certain people who carry a rare genetic mutation in the receptor for melatonin have a much higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, disrupting the link between the body clock and insulin release, leading to abnormal blood sugar control.

The study conducted on over 11,000 participants from both the UK and France will help to both assess and personalize a persons risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Ref: Bonnefond A. et al. ‘Rare MTNR1B variants impairing melatonin receptor 1B function contribute to Type 2 Diabetes’ Nature Genetics published online 29 January 2012

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