by: John Phillip
(NaturalNews) It is not difficult for most people to understand the importance of a good night's sleep to awaken refreshed and ready to take on the challenges of a new day. Less known is the scientific evidence that explains how poor sleep habits are the root cause behind the development of many chronic diseases, in a similar fashion to smoking or eating a nutritionally depleted diet. A growing body of research studies over the past five to ten years has implicated insufficient and poor quality sleep with increased risk for overweight and obesity, cancer and cognitive decline.
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The study author, Dr. Karen Matthews noted "High levels of insulin resistance can lead to the development of diabetes… 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 percent." The study team tracked the sleep patterns, duration and insulin resistance levels of 245 healthy high school teens. Participants had their fasting blood glucose tested and kept a sleep log for a period of one week. Weekday sleep duration averaged 6.4 hours, significantly lower than times recorded on weekends.
Sleep is found to directly impact insulin metabolism and disease risk in adolescents and teens
The study demonstrated that higher insulin resistance is associated with shorter sleep duration independent of race, age, gender, waist circumference, and body mass index. The study team concluded that interventions to promote metabolic health in adolescence should include efforts to extend nightly sleep duration.
In an independent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, scientists found an association between sleep disturbance and cardiovascular risk in adolescents, as determined by high cholesterol levels, increased body mass index (BMI) and hypertension. Researchers determined that 20 percent of adolescents have significant sleep problems, such as sleep disturbances or sleep deprivation which was associated with a higher cholesterol level, higher BMI, larger waist size, higher blood pressure and increased risk of hypertension.
Researchers concluded "that sleep disturbance in adolescents may significantly impact their cardiovascular risk in adulthood. Efforts to improve sleep habits early in life could be important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease." Children, teens and young adults typically demonstrate poor sleep habits due to increased stress and workload from studies and peer pressure. Additionally, diet is frequently suboptimal, placing them at even greater risk of chronic health issues later in life. This body of research clearly demonstrates the need to encourage a sound night's sleep of between seven and nine hours to lower risk of insulin resistance, diabetes and heart disease in adolescents and teens.