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Over the last 60 years we have seen a significant rise in metabolic disease, especially type 2 diabetes. In the same period, the emergence of electricity and artificial lighting has allowed our behavioural cycles to be independent of external patterns of sunlight. This has led to a corresponding increase in sleep deprivation, estimated to be about 1 hour per night, as well as circadian misalignment (living against the clock). Evidence from experimental animals as well as controlled human subjects have shown that sleep deprivation and circadian misalignment can both directly drive metabolic dysfunction, causing diabetes. However, the precise mechanism by which these processes contribute to insulin resistance remains poorly understood. In this article, we will review the new literature in the field and propose a model attempting to reconcile the experimental observations made. We believe our model will serve as a useful point of reference to understand how metabolic dysfunction can emerge from sleep or circadian rhythm disruptions, providing new directions for research and therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Endocrinol (Oxf)

Publication Date



circadian clock, energy metabolism, liver, sleep, type 2 diabetes