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Lack of Sleep Could Lead to Insulin Resistance in Teens: Study

Update Date: Sep 29, 2012 06:29 AM EDT

After a recent study that suggests that adults who are born even moderately preterm (32 to 36 weeks' gestation) are less insulin sensitive compared to those born at full term, a new study claims that if teenagers could improve the amount of sleep they get, that could significantly improve their 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, according to Medical Xpress.

"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."

For the study, the researchers kept a track on the duration of sleep and insulin resistance levels of 245 healthy high school students. The participants, for the research provided a fasting blood draw, maintained a sleep log and wore a wrist actigraph for one week during the school year. Sleep duration based on actigraphy averaged 6.4 hours over the week, with school days significantly lower than weekends, the report said.

The findings of the study reveal that shorter the sleep duration, higher the insulin resistance. These results were found to be true, independent of race, age, gender, waist circumference and body mass index.

Matthews says that this is the only study that has shown an association between less sleep and insulin resistance that is independent of obesity.

To conclude, the authors say that adolescents should try and extend the duration of their sleep for interventions aimed at promoting metabolic health. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends a little more than nine hours of sleep each night for teens.

The study appears in the October issue of the journal SLEEP.

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