A mutation in the gene that induces sleep significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Researchers in France found a mutation in the melatonin receptor gene lead to an almost sevenfold increase in the risk of developing diabetes. Melatonin, also called the “hormone of darkness”, is essentially the biological time keeper, that synchronizes biological rhythms with nightfall.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, which affects about 300 million people worldwide. Diabetes is typically caused by high-sugar diets, obesity, lack of exercise and other lifestyle factors. However, recent studies have also confirmed that sleep disorders, that impact both the quality and duration of sleep, are also common contributors.

The mutation in the melatonin receptor gene is one of the primary causes of sleep deprivation.

The research team sequenced the MT2 gene, which encodes its receptor in 7600 diabetics and people with normal glycaemia. They located 40 rare mutations that change the protein structure of the melatonin receptor, 14 which made the receptor in question nonfunctional. It was also learned that the risk of getting diabetes is almost seven times grater in those affected by these type of mutations.

Scientist believe this information could lead to the better treatment of diabetes, and also refocus the attention on genome sequencing, which can further personalize diabetic care.