People with Type 2 diabetes who don’t sleep well could need more time to heal their wounds, according to a new study published by researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
The research found that overweight mice with Type 2 diabetes and disrupted sleep needed more time to heal skin wounds than mice that also had disrupted sleep but didn’t have Type 2 diabetes. These results confirm that sleep plays an especially important role in wound healing among obese mice with Type 2 diabetes.
Sleep disorders and Type 2 diabetes are intimately connected.
“This is a public health issue, and we want to contribute to a solution,” says Dr. Ralph Lydic, co-author of the paper. “It has been widely documented that lack of sleep can create metabolic changes like those seen in patients with insulin resistance,” he adds.
For the experiment, scientists used obese mice with features of Type 2 diabetes and compared them to healthy mice of normal weight.
While deeply anesthetized, both groups of mice got a small surgical wound on the skin of their backs. The scientists analyzed how long it took the wound to heal under two scenarios: a normal sleep schedule and sleep that was repeatedly interrupted.
The result: the diabetic mice with fragmented sleep needed about 13 days for their wounds to achieve 50 percent healing. By contrast, even with sleep interruptions, the wounds of normal-weight healthy mice reached the same milestone in about five days.
One in three adult Americans suffers from prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Individuals with prediabetes are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives.
In people with Type 2 diabetes, high glucose levels lead to poor blood circulation and nerve damage, making the body more vulnerable to infections, especially after surgery.
Sleep disorders can also weaken the immune system and slow healing.
Treating wounds in diabetic patients is not only challenging at a clinical level, it can also get expensive. Just in the United States, the cost of treating nonhealing wounds is estimated to top $50 billion a year.
Next, the researchers will explore the effect that specific drugs have on wound healing in these same groups of mice with disrupted sleep.
The research appeared online in the journal SLEEP.
Republished with permission from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Media Relations Department.