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GPs ‘should prescribe sleep for diabetes and obesity’

GPs should prescribe better sleep to prevent and even treat metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, researchers have claimed.

The authors of a review in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, led by Professor Bernd Schultes from University of Lubeck, Switzerland, said increasing evidence from epidemiological studies has linked poor sleep – in particular as a result of shift work and increased use of electronic devices such as tablets – with poor metabolic health.

This is now being backed up by experimental studies, which are providing evidence there is a direct causal link between loss of sleep and the ability to metabolise glucose, control food intake and maintain energy balance.

The experts write: ‘These findings open up new strategies for targeted interventions aimed at the present epidemic of the metabolic syndrome and related diseases.’

‘Ongoing and future studies will show whether interventions to improve sleep duration and quality can prevent or even reverse adverse metabolic traits. Meanwhile, on the basis of existing evidence, health care professionals can be safely recommended to motivate their patients to enjoy sufficient sleep at the right time of day.’

Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2014; available online 25 March