Switch off the TV, shut down your laptop and put that phone away - getting a good night's sleep may be more important than you think.

A new study, published in Diabetes Care, has shown that sleep may reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in obese teens.

Getting a decent sleep may stave off the development of Type 2 diabetes in obese adolescents by avoiding disruptions in insulin secretion and blood sugar levels, the study showed. Similar research in adults linked sleep deprivation with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Canterbury diabetes physician Helen Lunt said getting between six and eight and a half hours sleep was ideal in allowing insulin and glucose to be optimised.


She said it was a complicated process.

"In 'sleep architecture' your brain goes through different phases. In some phases not being given long enough to sleep, or getting a disrupted sleep, can affect hormonal levels, like cortisol. High cortisol levels have been thought to cause diabetes. That's the simplest way I can explain it."

Teenagers were an age group which was characteristically lacking in sleep.

"With young people texting and on social media into the night many aren't getting enough sleep."

However, Dr Lunt didn't want people to stress about their sleep patterns.

"It can be difficult to sleep in Christchurch at the moment and I don't want people lying awake thinking 'I can't sleep' and spending the whole night imagining they are going to get diabetes. That's not going to help anyone."

She said other lifestyle factors were much more important than sleep in lowering diabetes risk.

"... If you're not eating the right things, and not doing any exercise, not getting enough sleep probably won't help. Most of our cases of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight."