January 18, 2018 By Elizabeth McCammon
Image of little girl sleeping with her teddy bear

Parents now have even more reason than before to ensure strict bedtimes for their children. A study by the University of London suggests there is a connection between fewer hours of sleep in children and the development of type 2 diabetes later in life.

Researchers looked at data for 4,525 children aged nine to 10 years and analyzed their hours of sleep (which averaged 10.5 hours a night), body measurements (height, weight, and blood pressure), and blood tests (including blood sugar and cholesterol levels).

The study’s results, published in the September 2017 issue of the journal Pediatrics, showed that the less sleep children had, the higher their risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including higher levels of blood sugar and insulin resistance (when the body is unable to use insulin effectively). On the other hand, children who slept longer had lower body weights and lower levels of fat. (The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends that children aged five to 10 years should get 10 to 12 hours sleep per night.)

“These findings suggest increasing sleep duration could offer a simple approach to reducing levels of body fat and type 2 diabetes risk from early life. Potential benefits associated with increased sleep in childhood may have implications for health in adulthood,” according to lead researcher Christopher G. Owen, a professor in the University of London’s Population Health Research Institute.

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