Diabetes Prevention for Teens–More Sleep?


My teenagers used to be masters at sleeping in on Saturdays and, had we let them, on school days, as well. They had plenty of energy to stay out well past curfew, and just loved sleeping in till noon on Saturdays. I doubt they got the sleep they should have.

But now there’s evidence that sleep may play a big role in diabetes prevention for teens.

Psychcentral.com ran an interesting article recently reporting a new study in the October issue of Sleep Magazine. If you’ve got a teenager in the house, don’t miss this one:

Researchers have found that increasing the amount of sleep during teenage years could reduce a teen’s insulin resistance and prevent the future onset of diabetes.

“High levels of insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes,” said lead author Karen Matthews, PhD., of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry. “We found that if teens who normally get six hours of sleep per night get one extra hour of sleep, they would improve insulin resistance by 9 percent.”

The study, appearing in the October issue of the journal SLEEP, tracked the sleep duration and insulin resistance levels of 245 healthy high school students. Read More:

I have to believe our kids will love it if we tell them they need more sleep in order to improve their insulin resistance. Especially on school days. But with the importance of sleep in all areas of health (skin care, ability to concentrate in class, daily energy, weight control, etc.), this is just one more reason to keep an eye on the number of hours teens are sleeping on a regular basis.

It reminds me of the times we had to force our toddlers to take their daily naps. Only now we have more reasons for doing so than just to keep them out of our hair for an hour or so! More sleep means less likelihood that the kid will get diabetes. Yeah, that should work. Uh huh.

Diabetes and sleep problems often go hand in hand, and many adults have learned. There’s evidence that not sleeping well can actually increase your risk of developing diabetes even long after your teen years. Studies have shown that, when deprived of sleep, the body’s reaction is similar to insulin resistance. Insulin is supposed to help the body transfer glucose into energy, but with insulin resistance, cells cannot do this efficiently so there’s an excess of blood sugar within the blood stream.

Diabetes, of course, occurs when the body does not produce sufficient insulin or when cells cannot properly use the insulin. With the resulting high blood sugar levels, there’s potential damage to the eyes, kidney, nerves or heart.

Another contributing factor to this situation is that, when deprived of sleep, both teens and adults tend to eat more comfort foods, thereby adding more sugar and making things even worse.

Now I wonder how sleeping time affects the ability of adults to avoid or delay the onset of diabetes. If I can find anything on that, I’ll be sure to report it here.

Are you getting enough sleep?

If you’re a diabetic who sleeps less than 8 hours a night, probably not. The solution, of course, is to make that your goal, even if it means going to bed earlier or sleeping longer in the morning.  But it’s not always easy to do, is it?

High blood sugar can lead to getting up frequently in the night to use the bathroom. You may feel so thirsty in the middle of the night that you need to get up for a glass of water.  Also, if you have high stress in addition to high glucose levels, you’re at a higher risk of insomnia.

Your own reasons for not getting enough sleep may be different from your teen age children. While they’re up playing video games or texting with their friends well into the early morning hours, you probably have other reasons for not getting the sleep you require:

  • Stress over family issues
  • Tensions and concerns about work
  • Serial TV viewing
  • Lifestyle habits created over the decades

It’s easy to say reduce your stress and you will improve your sleep.

It’s not so easy to do it. Some people find release from stress through meditation. Others have to deal directly with the source of the stress and somehow find a way to bring it under control.  Here’s a great article I found on 5 Ways Stress Wrecks Your Sleep (And What To Do About It).

As to lifestyle habits ranging from watching too much television or blaming your lack of sleep on being a night owl, here are a couple of other resources you may find helpful:

10 Reasons You Can’t Sleep
Why Six Hours of Sleep Is As Bad as None At All



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