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For teens lack of sleep could mean future type 2 diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Teens who don't get enough sleep at risk for type 2 diabetes in the future.

If your teen isn't getting enough sleep he or she may be at risk for future type 2 diabetes, regardless of height, weight, gender, age or other known risk factors for the disease.

Research published in the journal SLEEP finds short sleep duration could contribute to poor metabolic health during adolescence, setting the stage for diabetes in adulthood.

Past studies have suggested lack of sleep is linked to faulty glucose metabolism and obesity that raises diabetes risk. The study is the first to show diabetes risk from shorter sleep regardless of body mass index.

For the study, 245 healthy teens were tracked for insulin resistance. The high school students had their fasting blood sugars drawn, wore a wrist actigraph that measures sleep activity and kept a sleep log for one week during the school year.

Compared to weekends, sleep duration during the night before school was less. The average was 6.4 hours.

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The finding showed shorter sleep duration was associated with higher levels of insulin resistance and took into account gender, age, and weight, height, race and waist circumference.

Karen Matthews, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry said in a press release, "We found that if teens that normally get six hours of sleep per night get one extra hour of sleep, they would improve insulin resistance by 9 percent."

Poor sleep can also make diabetes more difficult to control, found in a cross section analysis of the 20 year CARDIA heart study

Finding ways to thwart diabetes is a focus of researchers. Type 2 diabetes is increasingly being diagnosed a younger ages.

The study suggests getting a good night’s sleep could prevent future type 2 diabetes by contributing to metabolic health during adolescence. The authors recommend interventions that can help teens get the sleep they to reduce their future risk of diabetes.

"Sleep Duration and Insulin Resistance in Healthy Black and White Adolescents"
Karen A. Matthews, PhD et al
October, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile