Recent studies indicate there is a relationship between certain sleep problems and the development of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a medical diagnosis that refers to the presence of at least three of the five primary risk factors that are associated with diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The five factors include high triglycerides, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, and low HDL cholesterol. According to the findings of this study, a person suffering from common sleep complaints (such as snoring, trouble falling asleep, restless sleep, etc.) is more likely to develop the symptoms of metabolic syndrome as well.
The study was done on a total of 812 individuals who were between the ages of 45 and 74, and who developed metabolic syndrome during a three year period of analysis. This particular age bracket was chosen because many people who fall under this category record the highest complaints of sleep disorders. The results of the study revealed that 70 percent of people who do not sleep well and 80 percent of those who have trouble falling asleep are twice as likely to develop symptoms of metabolic syndrome than those who do not experience sleeping difficulties.
It was also discovered that loud snoring was associated with low levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and high blood sugar levels, both of which are associated with the development of diabetes. Difficulty falling asleep was also a significant predictor of metabolic syndrome.
"Sleep problems aren`t just an annoyance but something with potential major public health ramifications," said Wendy Troxel, an assistant professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, who says this is the first study to explore the link between sleep quality and metabolic syndrome risk.
These study results may prove to be an important factor in predicting and perhaps even preventing the development of metabolic syndrome. Someone with sleep complaints (especially loud snoring and difficulty falling asleep) may benefit from adapting dietary and lifestyle changes appropriate for preventing or delaying the onset of metabolic syndrome symptoms.
This may also indicate that lifestyle and dietary factors that improve sleep quality may also be linked to a decreased risk of developing metabolic syndrome. In any case, findings such as these should serve as a reminder that the body is best viewed as a whole. Problems in one area of health may indicate an overall metabolic issue that can increase the risk of developing other health concerns.