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Sleep and Diabetes Risk

Sufficient Sleep Cuts Risk of Diabetes in Obese Teens
by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH

Three out of four high school students don’t get enough sleep. For obese teenagers, this can pose a significant health risk, increasing their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Getting a good night’s sleep, on the other hand, appears to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

Significantly overweight teenagers who don’t get the proper amount of sleep each night often have disruptions in insulin secretion and blood sugar (glucose) levels. In a study* of 62 obese adolescents, pediatric researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that to keep glucose levels stable, the optimal amount of sleep for teenagers is 7.5 to 8.5 hours per night. This finding is consistent with research in adults showing a link between sleep deprivation and increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Interestingly, more sleep isn’t better. The researchers found that both too little sleep and too much sleep were associated with higher glucose levels.

*Dorit Koren, Lorraine E. Levitt Katz, Preneet C. Brar, Paul R. Gallagher, Robert I. Berkowitz, Lee J. Brooks. Sleep Architecture and Glucose and Insulin Homeostasis in Obese Adolescents. Diabetes Care, 2011; DOI: 10.2337/dc11-1093

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