Sleep does so much more than make us feel refreshed and alert in the morning. A new study found that teens who regularly get a good night’s sleep are at a lower risk for developing diabetes.
Previous studies have linked short sleep duration with the development of diabetes in adults. Now, new research conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has found a similar pattern in teens.
In the study, 62 obese teens participated in an overnight sleep study so that scientists could monitor their sleep stages and glucose (blood sugar) levels. They found that sleeping between 7.5 and 8.5 hours per night was associated with stable glucose levels in the teens.
According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, when a person has type 2 diabetes, they are unable to produce the amount of insulin needed to break down glucose, remove it from the blood and use it for energy. Based on the study, it appears that a lack of sleep restricts the amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas, leading to diabetes.
The leader of this study, Dorit Koren, MD, explains that the results are troubling: “We already know that three out of four high school students report getting insufficient sleep.” The situation is made worse by the fact that a growing number of children and teens are obese, and fail to get the required amount of sleep each night.
Teenagers tend to have a lot of barriers and distractions when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep (e.g, early school start time, activities ending late in the evening, televisions, computers, cell phones, socializing with peers and so on…). However, the results of this study make it all the more reason to make getting a good night’s sleep a top priority.