Shut Down Diabetes With Some Shut-Eye

Obese teens at increased risk of type 2 diabetes if they get insufficient sleep

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Sleep is an important part of your health. Without your nightly shut-eye, your body would not get the rest it needs to prepare for the next day. A lack of sleep can also lead to certain diseases, including diabetes.

Obese teenagers who do not get the right amount of sleep may be putting themselves at greater risk for type 2 diabetes. When they sleep for too little or too long, these teens may have problems with their blood sugar and making insulin - a hormone that manages blood sugar.

"Get some sleep, you will feel better."

It is already known that about 75 percent of high school students do not get the right amount of sleep, explains researcher Dorit Koren, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

In this study, Dr. Koren and fellow researchers found that 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep per night is the best amount of sleep for teenagers to keep blood sugar levels stable. Dr. Koren notes that this finding is consistent with findings from studies on adults showing a link between lack of sleep and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.

The results of the study by Dr. Koren and colleagues show that both too little and too much sleep are associated with higher blood sugar levels. The researchers also found that teenagers who got less deep sleep (called N3 sleep) were likely to have lower insulin production.

According to Dr. Koren, this reduced production of insulin may be what leads to the higher blood sugar levels found in those who had insufficient sleep. She says that these findings will have to be verified through more studies of sleep patterns of obese teenagers in their own homes. Until then, she says that this study adds to the idea that teenagers may be able to protect themselves from type 2 diabetes by getting the right amount of sleep.

Dr. Koren and colleagues came to these findings by studying 62 obese teenagers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The participants were white, African American, and Hispanic teenagers. The researchers tested the participants' blood sugar levels and observed them in an overnight sleep study. The researchers measured total sleep time and analyzed the different stages of sleep.

The study - which appears in the journal Diabetes Care - was funded by the Pennsylvania State Tobacco Settlement Fund and the National Center for Research Resources.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 20, 2011
Last Updated:
September 21, 2011