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Young Diabetics Struggle To Get Good Night’s Sleep

I was looking for some interesting news articles and found this one that was quite interesting:

New research finds that many young people with type 1 diabetes struggle to get a good night’s sleep and this leads to increased health and behavior problems, such as poorer control of blood sugar and worsening of academic performance. You can read a scientific paper on the findings by lead investigator Dr Michelle Perfect from the University of Arizona at Tucson, and colleagues, in the January’s issue of the journal Sleep.

Perfect told the press in a statement that:

“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, lighter sleep and sleep apnea. All of these make it more difficult to have good blood sugar control,” she explained.

For their study, Perfect and colleagues followed the sleep health of 50 young people with type 1 diabetes. They were aged from 10 to 16 years, and the researchers compared their data with that of a similar control group.

When they compared the groups, Perfect and colleagues found the young diabetics spent a greater percentage of their sleep time in a lighter stage of sleep compared to their non-diabetic counterparts (they spent more time in N2 and less time in N3 stage sleep).

“More time (%) spent in stage N2 related to higher glucose levels/hyperglycemia, behavioral difficulties, reduced quality of life, lower grades, depression, sleep-wake behavior problems, poor sleep quality, sleepiness, and lower state standardized math scores,” they write.

However, Perfect said there is an “upside” to this, in that “sleep is a potentially modifiable health behavior, so these kids could be helped by a qualified professional to get a better night’s sleep.”

She and her colleagues also discovered that nearly a third of the diabetic youths they studied had sleep apnea, and this was regardless of their weight. Apnea is a disorder where breathing pauses or becomes very shallow during sleep; the risk of having it normally increases with weight and it is also linked to type 2 diabetes, which often only develops in adults.

In this study, the participants with sleep apnea also had significantly higher levels of blood sugar, which is similar to patterns seen in adult diabetics with sleep apnea.

Perfect said:

“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,” she urged.