To see if links between disrupted sleep and high blood glucose levels also exist in African Americans, researchers led by Dr. Yuichiro Yano from Duke University looked at data collected between 2012 and 2016 by the Jackson Heart Study. This community-based study looked at risk factors for heart disease among African American men and women living in the Jackson, Mississippi metropolitan area.
The analysis included about 800 participants who underwent home sleep apnea testing. They also wore a wrist actigraph—a device that measures wakefulness and sleep—for a week, and kept a sleep diary. This information was used to calculate how long people slept, how often they woke up during the night, and variability in these sleep patterns. Measurements of blood glucose were taken in the clinic.
The participants were mostly women, and about 25% had diabetes. Around a third were found to have sleep apnea, most of whom were not receiving treatment for the condition. The study was funded in part by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). Results were published on April 28, 2020, in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Both sleep apnea and fragmented sleep patterns recorded during the study were associated with higher blood glucose levels. These associations remained after the researchers adjusted for other factors including age, sex, weight, smoking and alcohol use, and history of diabetes and heart disease.