Sleep problems may affect teen diabetes

  • Deborah Condon

Children and teenagers with type 1 diabetes may experience poorer sleep than their peers and this could be affecting their condition, the results of a new study indicate.

US researchers followed the progress of 50 young people with type 1 diabetes. All were aged between 10 and 16.

According to the team, ‘despite adhering to recommendations for good diabetic health, many youth with type 1 diabetes have difficulty maintaining control of their blood sugars'.

"We found that it could be due to abnormalities in sleep, such as daytime sleepiness and lighter sleep. All of these make it more difficult to have good blood sugar control," the researchers explained.

Overall, they found that those with type 1 diabetes tended to spend a longer time in a lighter stage of sleep than their peers. This was linked to higher blood sugar levels and a poor performance in school.

"Sleep problems were associated with lower grades, poorer performance on tests, poor quality of life and abnormalities in daytime behavior," the researchers noted.

However, they added that sleep is a ‘potentially modifiable health behaviour', therefore these children could be helped to get a better night's sleep.

Meanwhile, the researchers also noted that almost one in three of the young people had the sleep disorder, sleep apnoea, regardless of their weight.

Sleep apnoea is a potentially life-threatening condition in which breathing is disrupted during sleep, however, it is more commonly associated with adults with type 2 diabetes, particularly overweight adults.

"Sleep apnea and its impact may not be confined to older people with diabetes, we don't know. It's something that needs to be looked at again," the team added.

Details of these findings are published in the journal, Sleep.



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