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Teen Sleep Deficits May Increase Diabetes Risk

Teenage Sleep Deficits Increase Risk for DiabetesMost teens sleep less than what is recommended. Sleep deficits can lead to learning difficulties, irritability, skin problems, weight gain and, as discovered in a new study, increase an individual’s resistance to insulin.

Researchers now believe 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, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry. “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, appearing in the October issue of the journal SLEEP, tracked the sleep duration and insulin resistance levels of 245 healthy high school students.

Participants provided a fasting blood draw, and they kept a sleep log and wore a wrist actigraph for one week during the school year. An actigraph is a small device worn as a wristwatch-like package to measure rest/activity patterns.

For the teens, sleep duration based on actigraphy averaged 6.4 hours over the week, with school days significantly lower than weekends.

Results show that higher insulin resistance is associated with shorter sleep duration independent of race, age, gender, waist circumference, and body mass index.

According to Matthews, the study is the only one in healthy adolescents that shows a relationship between shorter sleep and insulin resistance that is independent of obesity.

In summary, researchers believe interventions to promote metabolic health in adolescence should include efforts to extend nightly sleep duration. Experts suggest that most teens need a little more than nine hours of sleep each night.

Source: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Teen Sleep Deficits May Increase Diabetes Risk

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Teen Sleep Deficits May Increase Diabetes Risk. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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