Lack of sleep puts children at higher risk of type 2 diabetes

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Lack of sleep puts children at higher risk of type 2 diabetes

Most parents have an ongoing struggle with regard to an early bedtime. Now scientific research provides evidence that there may be some wisdom in the age-old early bedtime rule for children.

A new study from University of St George’s London published in Pediatrics reveals that sticking to a bedtime could help prevent type 2 diabetes in children. Since this kind of diabetes was so rare in children, it was previously called adult-onset diabetes. But a lack of exercise and sustained consumption of sugary food among children has contributed to an increase in obesity which has further lead to an increase in type 2 diabetes. This is caused when the body is unable to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood and it can't make enough insulin to convert blood sugar into energy.  

Very little research was conducted about sleep duration and its relationship with type 2 diabetes before this study. The researchers gathered data such as body measurements and blood sample results of over 4500 children from a variety of ethnic backgrounds between the ages nine and ten. The results revealed that children who slept on average for just one hour less a night had higher levels of blood glucose and insulin resistance which increased their risk for type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, children who slept longer had lower body weight and fat mass.   

A sufficient amount of sleep also helps to keep our appetite in check and is protective against insulin resistance. Thus increasing sleep duration is a simple way in which levels of body fat and type 2 diabetes risk can be reduced. According to the study, a regular bedtime, a focus on sleep hygiene, and increasing the sleep duration to 10 hours in children could promote good health and eliminate the risk of type 2 diabetes.

DOI: 10.1542/peds.2017-0338


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Published on: Aug 16, 2017


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