A new study suggests that men have who do not get enough sleep or get too much, are at a higher risk factor for contracting Type 2 diabetes.

A study by researchers, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. of 788 healthy men and women tracked their sleeping using electronic monitors while at the same time testing them for markers of diabetes, measuring exactly how well pancreatic cells dealt with glucose and how sensitive the body’s tissues are to insulin.

“There has been a lot of observational work on sleep, but trying to change it is difficult.”

During the last 50 years, the average self-reported sleep duration for individuals has decreased by 1.5 to 2 hours, said senior author, Femke Rutters, PhD, of the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

The prevalence of diabetes has doubled in the same time period.

“In a group of nearly 800 healthy people, we observed sex-specific relationships between sleep duration and glucose metabolism,” said Rutters.

“In men, sleeping too much or too little was related to less responsiveness of the cells in the body to insulin, reducing glucose uptake and thus increasing the risk of developing diabetes in the future. In women, no such association was observed.”

According to the New York Time blog:

The average sleep time for both men and women was about seven hours. As the men diverged from the average, in either direction, their glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity decreased, gradually increasing the deleterious health effects. There was no such association in women.

The researchers weren’t sure why men but not women showed this association but caution that this was a cross-sectional study, a snapshot of one moment in time, and that they draw no conclusions about cause and effect.

The lead author, Femke Rutters, an assistant professor at the VU Medical Center in Amsterdam, said that it is easy to advise men to get regular and sufficient sleep, but because so many lifestyle and health factors may contribute to poor sleep, acting on that advice is much harder.

“There has been a lot of observational work on sleep, but trying to change it is difficult,” she said. “Ideally, men should try for regular sleep.”