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Get your zzz's to lower sensitivity to pain‚ diabetes risk in teens



WASHINGTON: Longer sleep hours could prevent the onset of diabetes among teenagers, besides improving their insulin resistance, suggests a new study.

“High levels of insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes,” said Karen Matthews, who teaches psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh.

“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 nine per cent,” said Matthews, who led the study.

Insulin resistance is a set of metabolic dysfunctions linked with or contributing to a range of serious health conditions that include type 2 diabetes (formerly called adult-onset diabetes), metabolic syndrome, obesity, among others.

The study tracked the sleep duration and insulin resistance levels of a total of 245 healthy high school


Participants provided a fasting blood draw, and they kept a sleep log and wore a wrist actigraph for one week during the school year, the journal SLEEP reported.

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 a Pittsburgh statement.

The study is the only one in healthy adolescents that shows a relationship between shorter sleep and insulin resistance that is independent of obesity, added Matthews.

Meanwhile an American study points out that longer hours of snoozing for those who are mildly sleep deprived helps promote daytime alertness and reduces pain sensitivity.

“We were surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in pain sensitivity, when compared to the reduction produced by taking codeine (cough suppressant and pain killer),” said Timothy Roehrs, director of research at the Sleep Disorders and Research Centre of Henry Ford Health System and principal study investigator who also led the study.

The study involved a group of healthy, pain-free volunteers. They were randomly assigned to four nights of either maintaining their habitual sleep time or extending their sleep time by spending 10 hours in bed per night, the journal SLEEP reports.

Objective daytime sleepiness was measured using the multiple sleep latency test (MSLT) and pain sensitivity was assessed using a radiant heat stimulus, according to a Henry Ford statement.

Results show that the extended sleep group slept 1.8 hours more per night than the habitual sleep group. This nightly increase in sleep time during the four experimental nights was correlated with increased daytime alertness, which was tied to less pain


In the extended sleep group, the length of time before participants removed their finger from a radiant heat source increased by 25 per cent, reflecting a reduction in pain sensitivity.

The authors report that the magnitude of this increase in finger withdrawal latency is greater than the effect found in a previous study of 60 mg of codeine.

This is the first study to show that extended sleep in mildly, chronically sleep deprived volunteers reduces their pain sensitivity. The results, combined with data from previous research, suggest that increased pain sensitivity in sleepy individuals is the result of their underlying sleepiness.

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