, Volume 54, Issue 8, pp 1967-1976,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 15 May 2011

Disturbed subjective sleep characteristics in adult patients with long-standing type 1 diabetes mellitus



Decreased sleep duration and/or impaired sleep quality negatively influence glucoregulation. The aim of this study was to assess subjective sleep characteristics in patients with type 1 diabetes, to relate sleep characteristics to long-term glycaemic control and to assess possible risk factors for impaired sleep.


We studied 99 adult patients with type 1 diabetes (55 men, 44 women, duration of diabetes 26.9 ± 1.2 years) and 99 age-, sex- and BMI-matched non-diabetic controls. Subjective sleep characteristics were assessed by validated questionnaires, i.e. Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Epworth Sleepiness Scale and the Berlin Questionnaire. Glucoregulation was assessed by HbA1c values. Clinical variables were obtained from medical charts. Depression was assessed by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Peripheral polyneuropathy was assessed by neurological examination and quantitative sensory testing.


Of the patients with type 1 diabetes, 35% had subjective poor sleep quality compared with 20% of the control participants (p = 0.021). A higher proportion of the patients with type 1 diabetes were at increased risk for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) (17.2% vs 5.1%, p = 0.012). There was no significant association between individual sleep characteristics and HbA1c values. On logistic regression analysis, the HADS depression score, presence of peripheral polyneuropathy, habitual snoring and other sleep disturbances (e.g. hypoglycaemia) were independently associated with poor sleep quality.


Adult patients with long-standing type 1 diabetes mellitus have disturbed subjective sleep quality and a higher risk for OSA compared with control participants. Subjective sleep disturbances are part of the complex syndrome of long-standing type 1 diabetes.