A recent UK study suggests that children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than kids who typically sleep longer. Each additional hour of sleep children get at night is associated with lower body weight, more lean muscle mass, and less accumulation of sugars in the blood. Since obesity and high blood sugars are contributing factors to developing type 2 diabetes, you can see the possible correlation.
This study, based on 4,525 children ages 9 or 10, found that kids who slept less were more likely to be extremely overweight or obese and have more body fat. Children who got less sleep on average per night were also more likely to have a risk factor called insulin resistance, where their bodies don’t respond normally to insulin. An additional factor, insufficient sleep also affects the level of hormones that control appetite, making kids hungrier and increasing cravings for sweet and salty snacks.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children ages 6 to 12 should get 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night. “Getting enough sleep helps keep our appetite in check and is protective against insulin resistance,” said James Gangwisch, a psychiatry researcher at Columbia University who wasn’t involved in the study.