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Less sleep and high blood sugar

Young children may be more apt to have high blood sugar, a precursor to diabetes, if they average 8 hours or less of sleep a night. This risk may be even greater among obese youngsters.

Less sleep and high blood sugar

Young children may be more apt to have high blood sugar, a precursor to diabetes, if they average 8 hours or less of sleep a night. This risk may be even greater among obese youngsters. Moreover, shorter sleep seems to influence blood sugar independently of a large variety of risk factors such as age, gender, birth-related influences, early life feeding or later diet, recent illness, physical activity, body mass, and waist girth.

Researchers from China investigated sleep duration and blood sugar levels in 619 obese and 617 non-obese children who were 3 to 6 years old and free of diabetes or blood sugar problems. Parental reports showed a greater percentage of the obese (47 percent) than the non-obese (37 percent) kids averaged 8 or fewer hours of sleep nightly. These reports also showed nightly averages of 9 or 10, or 11-plus, hours of sleep less common in obese (37 and 16 percent) versus non-obese (43 and 20 percent) kids, respectively.

It was found that high blood sugar levels, defined as 100 milligrams of glucose per decilitre of blood after not eating for 8 hours, appeared about 1.35-fold and 2.15-fold more likely in the shorter-sleeping non-obese and obese kids, respectively. (For comparison, 110 milligrams per decilitre is considered 'pre-diabetes,' while diabetes is diagnosed at 126 milligrams.) High blood sugar levels were evident in 23 of the 217 non-obese and in 49 of the 291 obese kids sleeping less than 8 hours. In contrast, 21 each of the 175 non-obese and 229 obese kids getting 9 or 10 hours of sleep nightly had high blood sugar. Overall, 11 of the children had levels above 126 milligrams per decilitre, the level at which diabetes is diagnosed.

The above findings hint that, similar to adults, adequate sleep may help kids maintain a healthy body weight and an optimal (blood sugar) level. However, the researchers highlight the need for further studies to confirm the findings in all kinds of populations of youngsters.

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