Extending sleep duration may help to reduce diabetes risk in youth.

A new study suggests that increasing the amount of sleep that teenagers get could improve their insulin resistance and prevent the future onset of diabetes.

"High levels of insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes," said lead author Karen Matthews, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry. "We found that if teens that normally get six hours of sleep per night get one extra hour of sleep, they would improve insulin resistance by 9 percent."

The study, appearing in the October issue of the journal SLEEP, tracked the sleep duration and insulin resistance levels of 245 healthy high school students. Participants provided a fasting blood draw, and they kept a sleep log and wore a wrist actigraph for one week during the school year. Sleep duration based on actigraphy averaged 6.4 hours over the week, with school days significantly lower than weekends.

Results show that higher insulin resistance is associated with shorter sleep duration independent of race, age, gender, waist circumference, and body mass index. According to Matthews, the study is the only one in healthy adolescents that shows a relationship between shorter sleep and insulin resistance that is independent of obesity.

The authors concluded that interventions to promote metabolic health in adolescence should include efforts to extend nightly sleep duration. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that most teens need a little more than nine hours of sleep each night.

To request a copy of the study, "Sleep Duration and Insulin Resistance in Healthy Black and White Adolescents," or to arrange an interview with an AASM spokesperson, please contact Communications Coordinator Lynn Celmer at 630-737-9700, ext. 9364, or [email protected].

The monthly, peer-reviewed, scientific journal SLEEP is published online by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. The AASM is a professional membership society that is the leader in setting standards and promoting excellence in sleep medicine health care, education and research.