Lack of sleep in teenagers can increase the risk of early onset of diabetes, irrespective of body mass, a new study says. Researchers recommend teenagers get around 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
"High levels of insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes. We found that if teens that normally get six hours of sleep per night get one extra hour of sleep, they would improve insulin resistance by 9 percent," said Karen Matthews, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Psychiatry, lead author of the study in a press release.
Insulin resistance is when the body produces insulin but does not use it properly. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps break the glucose in the body. People who have insulin resistance do not respond to insulin and so the pancreas keeps producing more insulin just to increase glucose uptake by the cells. Eventually the pancreas fails, glucose levels in the body rise leading to onset of diabetes.
The study involved 245 healthy high school students. Participants' sleep was tracked using a sleep log and an actigraph that measured their activity levels. Each participant was tracked for one week during the school year.
Participants had an average of 6.4 hours of sleep per day over the week; with less sleep during school day as compared to weekends.
Researchers accounted for participants' age, sex and body mass, yet found a significant association between loss of sleep and insulin resistance.
Medical Daily had previously reported that lack of sleep disrupts the body's biological clock and negatively affects body's metabolism that can lead to diabetes and obesity.
Other studies have found that exposure to light at night, especially from gadgets can ruin teenagers' sleep schedule. Also, sacrificing sleep to study is not a good idea either as another study has found that losing sleep over exams can lead to future academic problems.
The study will appear in the October issue of the journal SLEEP.