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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Study: Diabetes a hindrance to sleep

Children with diabetes may struggle more in school than children without diabetes because of differences in their sleep, according to UA researchers.

Researchers monitored the glucose levels and sleep patterns of 50 diabetic children, and found that patients with Type 1 diabetes spend about 5 percent less time in deep sleep than people without diabetes.

Michelle Perfect, an assistant professor of disability and psychoeducational studies at the College of Education, said that after comparing results from the sleep monitor, the research team obtained school records to determine how diabetes and sleep were affecting the children’s school performance. They found a definite connection between quality of rest and academic struggling.

“One way to help improve school performance is to improve sleep,” Perfect said. “Hopefully, if we teach the children strategies to have better sleep habits, they will be able to have more consistent sleep.”

Although the study did not look at why diabetic children spend less time in deep sleep, Perfect said she had a few theories.

“Hypothetically, I think one reason could be that in deep sleep you have different neurotransmitters that are released, and those help balance glucose in the body,” she said.

Perfect also said that these children could have trouble falling into deep sleep if they are woken up nightly because of glucose checks.

Dr. Priti Patel, assistant professor of pediatrics, helped recruit patients for the study. Patel said her focus was more on the glucose levels and fluctuation during sleep and exercise.

“Though our research teams had differences in focus, the clinical team was interested in any revelations of glucose trends related to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, during sleep and during activities,” she said. “We were able to come together to gain insight to the psychological aspects of school function and glucose control, and gain insight into the child’s experience with diabetes as a whole.”

Dr. Mark Wheeler, associate professor of pediatrics and endocrinology section chief at the College of Medicine’s Angel Clinic, provided resources to the clinic, including glucose monitors.

“There is so much complexity in diabetic care and in other chronic health issues that it is difficult for one person to be able to answer all of the research questions that need to be addressed,” Wheeler said. “Before I met Dr. Perfect, I hadn’t thought about the sleep aspect in Type 1 diabetes care. With her expertise in sleep and education, and our expertise in the clinical management of diabetes, we were able to broach a research component that we wouldn’t have done on our own.”

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