Do sleep disorders and associated treatments impact glucose metabolism?

Naresh M. Punjabi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Over the past decade substantial evidence has accumulated implicating disorders of sleep in the pathogenesis of various metabolic abnormalities. This review, which is based on workshop discussions that took place at the 6th annual meeting of the International Sleep Disorders Forum: The Art of Good Sleep 2008 and a systematic literature search, provides a critical analysis of the available evidence implicating sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), insomnia, short or long-term sleep duration and restless legs syndrome as potential risk factors for insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes mellitus and the metabolic syndrome. The review also highlights the evidence on whether treatment of specific sleep disorders can decrease metabolic risk. In total, 83 published reports were selected for inclusion. Although several studies show clear associations between sleep disorders and altered glucose metabolism, causal effects and the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms involved have not been fully elucidated. OSA appears to have the strongest association with insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. There are, however, limited data supporting the hypothesis that effective treatment of sleep disorders, including OSA, has a favourable effect on glucose metabolism. Large randomized trials are thus required to address whether improvement of sleep quality and quantity can curtail excess metabolic risk. Research is also required to elucidate the mechanisms involved and to determine whether the effects of treatment for sleep disorders on glucose metabolism are dependent on the specific patient factors, the type of disorder and the duration of metabolic dysfunction. In conclusion, there is limited evidence on whether sleep disorders alter glucose metabolism and whether treatment can reduce the excess metabolic risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
Volume69 Suppl 2
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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