Obesity and elevated blood sugar are risk factors for type 2 diabetes, which happens when the body can’t properly use or make enough of the hormone insulin to convert blood sugar into energy, reports Daily Mail.
Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes because it was so rare in children but today, it’s a common childhood health problem, in large part because millions of kids worldwide are overweight or obese, don’t get enough exercise, and eat too many sugary and fatty foods.
‘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,’ Simon, who wasn’t involved in the study, said.
Insufficient sleep can affect levels of hormones that control appetite, making kids hungrier and increasing cravings for sweet and salty snacks, said James Gangwisch, a psychiatry researcher at Columbia University in New York who wasn’t involved in the study.
For the study, researchers examined survey data on sleep habits and lab results from tests of risk factors for diabetes in 4,525 children age nine or 10.
On average, the kids slept 10.5 hours on school nights, although sleep duration ranged from eight to 12 hours.
Children who got less sleep in the study were more likely to have a risk factor for diabetes known as insulin resistance, when the body doesn’t respond normally to the hormone.
Kids who slept less were also more likely to be extremely overweight or obese and have more body fat, the study also found.
‘Getting enough sleep helps keep our appetite in check and is protective against insulin resistance,’ Gangwisch said.
Beyond making sure kids have regular bedtime, parents should also focus on what’s known as sleep hygiene, said Femke Rutters of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam.
This can include things like limiting screen time before bed and making sure the bedroom is totally dark at night, Rutters, who wasn’t involved in the study.