Poor night’s sleep may increase type 2 diabetes risk in obese teens

Many adolescents have poor sleep habits, but new evidence suggests that this may predispose individuals to developing type 2 diabetes, particularly if they are already overweight. The findings suggest that obese teens should find ways to get healthier amounts of sleep at night.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia researchers who led the study said that many teens currently fail to get a good night’s sleep. Between early start times at school, a full plate of extra-curricular activities and a slate of entertainment options that may keep them up all night, there is little room for proper amounts of sleep.

Yet, this may be significantly increasing obese teens’ type 2 diabetes risk. For the study, researchers analyzed the sleep of 62 overweight adolescents. They found that those who slept between 7.5 and 8.5 hours had the healthiest blood sugar levels. Too much or too little sleep was linked to high glucose.

Additionally, insufficient amounts of N3 sleep, or deep sleep, were associated with unhealthy levels of blood sugar.

Adolescents with higher blood glucose appeared to have lower levels insulin secretion. This is the hormone that is supposed to manage blood sugar. The team said this may point to dysfunctions in the pancreas. Regardless of the cause, they said their findings underscore the importance of a proper night’s sleep, particularly among obese youths.

"We already know that three out of four high school students report getting insufficient sleep," said lead researcher Dorit Koren, MD. "Our study found to keep glucose levels stable, the optimal amount of sleep for teenagers is 7.5 to 8.5 hours per night."