Oct 13, 2017, 1:06:07 PM CDT Feb 23, 2023, 4:26:00 PM CST

The importance of sleep in preventing type 2 diabetes

Getting sufficient zzz's lowers your child's risk factors

little girl sleeping holding a teddy bear little girl sleeping holding a teddy bear

You probably already know how important it is for your child to get enough sleep – but you may be surprised to learn that children who get more sleep actually have fewer risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. A study published by researchers at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that the longer children in the study slept, the lower their insulin, insulin resistance and glucose levels.

Increase in type 2 diabetes in children

Type 2 diabetes in children has been on the rise for a number of years. Some studies show that the amount of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has risen 30 percent over the past decade . Olga Gupta, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist and medical director of the COACH Program at Children’s Health℠ and researcher at the Touchstone Diabetes Center at UT Southwestern, says she has observed a similar trend in her practice.

Dr. Gupta explains that the rise in type 2 diabetes in children “mirrors the obesity trend that we’ve seen in the country and in our community, and the medical complications that go along with that.” Today, one-third of children are either overweight or obese, putting them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health problems. Type 2 diabetes is a multifactorial condition, and not getting sufficient sleep is one of the risk factors for children.

Big impacts of too few zzz’s

Besides putting your child at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, not getting enough sleep also negatively impacts mood, which can lead to other conditions like depression and anxiety. “Change in mood can impact food choices and activity levels – both of which contribute to obesity and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” points out Dr. Gupta.

Sleep guidelines for children and teens

Dr. Gupta recommends that parents and families follow the daily sleep guidelines from the AAP:

  • 4–12 months of age: 12–16 hours
  • 1–2 years of age: 11–14 hours
  • 3–5 years of age: 10–13 hours
  • 6–12 years of age: 9–12 hours
  • 13–18 years of age: 8–10 hours

Dr. Gupta reminds parents that the quality of their children’s sleep is just as important as the quantity. She recommends that parents keep their children on the same bedtime routine and schedule every day, even on the weekends and over school breaks. It’s also important that children turn off all screen devices well before bedtime.

Learn more

Endocrinologists at Children’s Health can help prevent and manage diabetes in children. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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