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Can Teens' Lack of Sleep Lead to Diabetes?

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Getting more sleep may help reduce teens' future risk of developing diabetes, according to a new study.

For one week, researchers tracked the amount of sleep and insulin resistance levels in 245 healthy high schools students. Overall, the students averaged 6.4 hours of sleep a night, but got significantly less sleep on school days than on the weekend.

Lower amounts of sleep were associated with higher insulin resistance -- determined by a blood test -- even when taking students' race, age, gender, waist size and body mass index (a measure of body fat based on height and weight) into account, according to the study published in a recent issue of the journal Sleep.

"High levels of insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes," lead author Karen Matthews, of the University of Pittsburgh's department of psychiatry, said in a journal news release. "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."

The study is the first in healthy teens to show a link between lower amounts of sleep and insulin resistance that is independent of obesity, according to Matthews.

Programs to improve teens' health should include efforts to increase the amounts of sleep they get, the researchers concluded. Most teens need just over nine hours of sleep each night, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

While the study found an association between lower amounts of sleep and insulin resistance in teens, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about teens and sleep.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Sleep, news release, Nov. 29, 2012

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