Children who don’t get enough sleep at higher risk of type 2 diabetes in later life

by Barbara Hewitt on August 17, 2017

Children who slept on average one hour less a night have higher risk factors for type 2 diabetes in later life, a new study has found.

Those with less sleep had higher levels of blood glucose and insulin resistance, according to the research at St George’s, University of London.


In the UK NHS Choices recommended sleep duration for a 10 year old is 10 hours and so a child getting just one hour less has a higher risk, the study report says.

‘These findings suggest increasing sleep duration could offer a simple approach to reducing levels of body fat and type 2 diabetes risk from early life,’ said Professor Christopher Owen, who led the research.

‘Potential benefits associated with increased sleep in childhood may have implications for health in adulthood,’ he added.

The study also explained that more and more children are not getting adequate sleep. Owen pointed out that children should be encouraged to have healthy sleeping habits from an early age and this could be a low cost and simple intervention that could protect the child from diabetes later in life.

The study, Sleep Duration and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes, also confirmed prior research that has shown an association between shorter sleep duration and higher levels of body fat.

Researchers analysed the body measurements, blood sample results and questionnaire data from 4,525 children of multi-ethnic descent aged nine to 10 years in England.

Children who slept longer had lower body weight and lower levels of fat mass. Sleep duration was also inversely related to insulin, insulin resistance and blood glucose.

The study did not find an association between sleep duration and cardiovascular risk factors, including blood lipids and blood pressure.

The authors conclude that increasing the mean weekday sleep duration of 10.5 hours by half an hour could be associated with a 0.1 kg/m² lower body mass index and a 0.5% reduction in insulin resistance.

Reducing these levels may have longer-term implications for reduced type 2 diabetes in later life, the study concludes.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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