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Teens' Lack of Sleep May Up Risk of Diabetes, Health Issues

Teens’ Lack of Sleep May Up Risk of Diabetes, Health Issues

A new Pennsylvania State study suggests the amount of quality sleep during teenage years influences whether a boy is at risk for future health issues.

Jordan Gaines, a neuroscience researcher, discovered boys who experience a greater decline in slow-wave sleep as adolescents have a significantly higher chance of developing insulin resistance than those who more closely maintained their slow-wave sleep as they got older.

These boys are then also at greater risk for developing type II diabetes, increased visceral fat, and impaired attention.

Slow-wave sleep (SWS) is an important stage of sleep that is involved in memory consolidation and recovery after sleep deprivation, and is also associated with reduced cortisol and inflammation.

While prior research has shown that SWS declines as a person gets older, there is little research looking at possible physical or neurocognitive consequences of the loss of SWS.

Gaines explained his study findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“On a night following sleep deprivation, we’ll have significantly more slow-wave sleep to compensate for the loss,” said Gaines, a doctoral candidate in neuroscience.

“We also know that we lose slow-wave sleep most rapidly during early adolescence. Given the restorative role of slow-wave sleep, we weren’t surprised to find that metabolic and cognitive processes were affected during this developmental period.”

Gaines analyzed results collected through the Pennsylvania State Child Cohort in order to study long-term effects of SWS loss from childhood to adolescence. The cohort included 700 children from the general central Pennsylvania population, ages five to 12. Eight years later, 421 participants were followed up during adolescence — 53.9 percent were male.

Participants stayed overnight both at the beginning of the study and at the follow-up and had their sleep monitored for nine hours. At the follow-up appointment, participants’ body fat and insulin resistance were measured, and they also underwent neurocognitive testing.

Gaines found that in boys, a greater loss of SWS between childhood and adolescence was significantly associated with insulin resistance, and this loss was marginally associated with increased belly fat and impaired attention.

However, Gaines did not find any associations between SWS and insulin resistance, physical health, or brain function in girls.

Importantly, the participants’ sleep duration did not decline significantly with age, suggesting that the effects observed were due to a loss of this “deeper” stage of sleep, according to the researcher.

“More longitudinal studies are needed to replicate these findings, especially in other age groups,” said Gaines.

“Studies looking at the effects of experimentally enhanced slow-wave sleep are also necessary. In the meantime, we can use these findings as a springboard for future work on the sleep-health connection.

“The best thing we can do for ourselves today is keep a consistent sleep schedule, so as not to deprive ourselves of any more slow-wave sleep than we’re already naturally losing with age.”

Source: Pennsylvania State University
 
Tired teenager photo by shutterstock.

Teens’ Lack of Sleep May Up Risk of Diabetes, Health Issues

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. (2016). Teens’ Lack of Sleep May Up Risk of Diabetes, Health Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/02/15/teens-lack-of-sleep-may-up-risk-of-diabetes-health-issues/99149.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 15 Feb 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Feb 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.