Sleep affects every aspect of your life. When you lose precious moments of shuteye, you're more inclined to feel stressed, sluggish, and have trouble concentrating. You're also more likely to have certain health issues, such as weakened immunity and high blood pressure. And this is true for children, as well: According to new research, kids who lose sleep are at higher risk for diabetes.
Although studies have found a link between diabetes risk and sleep deprivation, a new report published in Pediatrics offers deeper insight into the effects of poor sleep among children. According to Reuters, researchers with St. George's, University of London analyzed the medical data of more than 4,500 U.K. children ages 9 or 10, and found that kids who slept less were more likely to have higher insulin resistance, a known risk factor for diabetes. Insulin resistance happens when the body does not respond normally to the insulin hormone, making it harder to absorb sugar from the bloodstream, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 6 to 12 receive between nine to 12 hours of sleep every day. Kids in the study averaged 10.5 hours of shuteye.
Christopher Owen, author of the study, told Reuters by email,
These findings suggest increasing sleep duration could offer a simple, cost-effective approach to reducing levels of body fat and type 2 diabetes risk early in life.
According to Healthline, sleep deprivation increases a person's risk for diabetes because it affects leptin and ghrelin levels — the two hormones that control appetite and feeling full. You may end up craving starchy or sugary foods, which can cause your blood sugar levels to rise and affect your insulin resistance.
Sleep experts suggest that the fluctuation of these hormones may affect the way children eat, Reuters reported. Pediatric sleep psychologist Stacey Simon, who was not involved with the U.K. study, told the outlet,
When kids are going to bed very late or sleeping on an irregular schedule, they may also be skipping meals, eating at irregular times, or be less likely to exercise during the day.
Sleep deprivation may also cause kids to be less physically active, which can lead to weight gain, another risk factor for diabetes. A lack of sleep also affects their concentration, behavior, and ability to perform in school. Researchers suggested that increasing a child's sleep duration by even 30 minutes can lower insulin resistance, according to ABC News.