Sleepy Teens Face Diabetes Risk Factor

Insulin resistance in teens may be improved through longer sleep

December 1, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

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(dailyRx News) Teenagers need a good night's rest not only to make it through the school day but also to ensure good health as they grow older. This may be particularly true when it comes to protecting against diabetes.

If teenagers get more sleep, they may have a better chance of preventing future diabetes, according to a recent study.

Results showed that getting just one extra hour of sleep could reduce insulin resistance - a central characteristic in many cases of diabetes - by 9 percent.

"Sleep well to maintain good health."

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body turn sugar in the blood into energy for the body. When someone is insulin resistant, their body does not respond well to insulin, allowing blood sugar levels to rise. High blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes and a number of other health problems.

According to lead author Karen Matthews, PhD, from the University of Pittsburg, "High levels of insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes. We found that if teens that normally get 6 hours of sleep per night get one extra hour of sleep, they would improve insulin resistance by 9 percent."

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that most teens get a little more than 9 hours of sleep per night.

For their study, Dr. Matthews and colleagues followed 245 healthy high school students to track their insulin resistance and how long they slept. According to the students' diaries, participants slept an average of 7.4 hours per night. According to the activity monitor worn on their wrists, however, participants slept an average of 6.4 hours per night.

The researchers found that higher levels of insulin resistance were associated with less sleep, regardless of patients' race, age, gender, waist size or body mass index (a measure of body fat using height and weight).

Obesity is one of the leading causes of insulin resistance and diabetes. Be that as it may, this study shows that obesity may not be the only factor causing insulin resistance.

According to Dr. Matthews, the study is the only one to show a link between shorter sleep and insulin resistance without obesity as a factor.

These findings suggest that interventions to increase sleep time may lower the risk of diabetes in teens, the authors concluded. The study was published in the October issue of the journal SLEEP.