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Monday 26th August 2019

Sleep loss boosts diabetes risk in teens

2nd October 2012

The less sleep teenagers get, the higher their chances of developing insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes.


The study, published in the journal Sleep, studied teenagers in the United States, and found those who stayed up all night, possibly to play video games, were at greater risk of developing diabetes.

The researchers suggested ensuring teenagers get more sleep could protect them against diabetes in the longer term.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body's cells do not respond to insulin as well as they should, putting a greater strain on the pancreas to produce more of the hormone.

Insulin is crucial if the body is to get energy from glucose, its main source.

As the pancreas works ever harder to produce more insulin, the level of sugar builds up in a person's bloodstream, and makes the development of type 2 diabetes more likely.

Insulin resistance is part of metabolic syndrome, which also increases a person's risk for other diseases, including heart disease.

According to study lead author Karen Matthews, of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, if teenagers who currently sleep for six hours a night were to increase their sleep to seven hours a night, they could improve insulin resistance by 9%.

She said the current study was the first to demonstrate a clear link between insufficient sleep and insulin resistance in healthy adolescents, regardless of whether they were obese or overweight.

The researchers measured the sleep duration and insulin resistance among 245 healthy teenagers over the course of a week during school.

They took a fasting blood sample, asked participants to keep a sleep log, and gave them wristbands to measure how long they were inactive for.

The participants got less sleep during the school week, averaging just 6.4 hours a night.

The less sleep they got, the higher their insulin resistance was likely to be, the study found.

The link between sleep duration and insulin resistance was independent of other factors, including waist size, body mass index, age, gender or ethnicity.

Longer sleep showed no correlation with insulin resistance, by contrast.

The team concluded that ensuring that teenagers get more sleep could reduce the risk of diabetes, which is a growing problem in young people.

According to recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, most teenagers need to get more than nine hours of sleep a night to remain healthy.

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