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Sleep deprivation linked to diabetes in children

Each extra hour of sleep helps children maintain a healthy weight, gain muscle mass, and control blood sugar levels.

Did you know that children who sleep less may be at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes?

Research has established a link between insufficient sleep and diabetes in adults, but the issue has received little attention in children, until recently. According to a study, published in Pediatrics, the less sleep children have, the more likely they are to have higher BMIs, insulin resistance, and glucose levels. All three of these characteristics are risk factors for Type 2 diabetes.

How the study was conducted

Over 4000 children aged between nine and 10-year-olds from various ethnic origins were researched by British researchers. Their parents reported sleeping 10 hours every night on average, with 95% sleeping between eight and 12 hours. Overall, increasing daily sleep duration by an hour was linked to a 0.2 lower BMI and a 3% reduction in insulin resistance. The causes for the association are unknown, but the researchers believe that lack of sleep may interfere with appetite management, leading to overeating and obesity.

This observational study was unable to determine cause and effect. Nonetheless, the main author, Christopher G. Owen, a professor of epidemiology at St. George’s University of London, stated that the more sleep a child gets, the better — there is no threshold. “Improving sleep is a really easy, low-cost intervention,” he explained. “We should do everything in our power to ensure that children get enough sleep.”

How to ensure your child gets enough sleep

The majority of children fall asleep within the first 20 minutes of going to bed. The length of time it takes children to fall asleep might vary depending on how tired their bodies are, as well as their daytime and evening rituals.

Night routines assist children in winding down before bedtime, allowing them to go asleep more quickly. Children may wake up briefly during the night, although they may not be aware that they are awake. Children must be able to fall back to sleep on their own after these brief waking episodes if they are to stay sleeping.

5 Tips for Improving Your Child’s Sleeping Habits

  1. Create a nighttime habit: A consistent bedtime routine that begins at the same time each night promotes healthy sleep patterns. Younger children may benefit from a nighttime routine that includes a bath, story, and bed. For older children, the pattern may involve a quiet conversation with you about the day, followed by some time alone to unwind before lights down.
  2. Maintain consistent sleep and wake times: Keep your child’s bedtime and wake-up timings within 1-2 hours of each other on a daily basis. This helps to keep your child’s body clock on a consistent schedule.
  3. Keep older children’s naps short and early: Most children quit daytime naps between the ages of three and five. If your child is over the age of five and still napping during the day, limit the nap to no more than 20 minutes and no later than early afternoon. Longer and later naps can make it difficult for youngsters to sleep at night.
  4. Examine the noise and lighting in your child’s bedroom: Check to see if your child’s bedroom is too bright or too noisy for them to sleep. The blue light emitted by televisions, computer screens, phones, and tablets decreases melatonin levels and causes tiredness.
  5. Limit your child’s caffeine intake: Caffeine can be found in energy drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate, and cola. Encourage your child to avoid these things in the late afternoon and evening.

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