Senior Research Scientist Susan Malone receives two grants to study sleep

Senior Research Scientist Susan Malone

March 19, 2018

The National Institute of Nursing Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded NYU Meyers’ Susan Malone, MSN, PhD, a K99/R00 grant to study whether tailored interventions to improve sleep can help prevent type 2 diabetes among adults with prediabetes. The two-year, $180,000 grant (1K99NR017416-01) began earlier this year.

Lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise have made great strides in preventing and delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. In some people, the benefits of lifestyle modifications are even greater than taking medication.

Identifying additional modifiable factors that can expand intervention options beyond diet and exercise are needed to sustain metabolic benefits and offer less intense and more affordable solutions. Improving sleep is one viable option, as multiple dimensions of sleep are associated with type 2 diabetes risk and poor glucose control. An important but unanswered question for tailoring sleep interventions is whether regular sleep patterns should be prioritized, given that irregular sleep patterns are very common.

Malone’s study – a collaboration between researchers at NYU Meyers, the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Arizona – consists of two phases. The first will use an existing data set to quantify the effects of irregular sleep patterns on glucose regulation in three groups of people: those with diabetes, prediabetes, or a normal concentration of sugar in the blood. This will help the researchers to understand individual differences in resiliency against or vulnerability to irregular sleep patterns.

The second phase will test the effects of a daily sleep extension intervention versus habitual sleep patterns on blood glucose levels in adults with pre-diabetes. The participants will use wearable sensor technologies to measure their movement and blood glucose levels.

“Our project will determine the viability of sleep as a treatment intervention for people with prediabetes, thereby expanding intervention options beyond diet and exercise,” Malone said.

Malone also received a two-year, $37,500 grant (1UL1TR001445) from the NYU – Health + Hospitals Corporation Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), established in 2009 through a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

The CTSI-funded study, which begins April 1, will also look at sleep as a potential intervention to prevent metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that increase one’s risk for multiple chronic conditions including type 2 diabetes. In this case, the study team will investigate whether sleeping longer can help to improve metabolic syndrome. The collaborative project between NYU Meyers and NYU School of Medicine will test a sleep extension intervention in 30 diverse, middle-aged adults with metabolic syndrome who sleep for short durations, a predictor of metabolic syndrome.

Participants’ baseline sleep habits will be assessed and used to guide individualized strategies to extend their sleep. After the 12-week sleep intervention, researchers will measure whether participants slept longer and whether there were effects on metabolic syndrome factors, including blood pressure, glucose levels, cholesterol, as well as other symptoms and behaviors. The results will inform future studies of sleep and metabolic syndrome.