Principal investigator Michelle Perfect of the University of Arizona at Tucson tracked the sleep health of 50 children ages 10-16 with type 1 diabetes.
The study, published in the journal Sleep, found participants spent more time in a lighter stage of sleep than young people without diabetes -- and that was related to compromised school performance and higher blood sugar levels.
"Despite adhering to recommendations for good diabetic health, many youth with type 1 diabetes have difficulty maintaining control of their blood sugars," Perfect said in a statement. "We found that it could be due to abnormalities in sleep, such as daytime sleepiness, lighter sleep and sleep apnea. All of these make it more difficult to have good blood sugar control."
Perfect and colleagues found nearly one-third of the youths in the study had sleep apnea, regardless of weight. Sleep apnea is associated with type 2 diabetes -- adult-onset diabetes.
"Sleep problems were associated with lower grades, poorer performance on state standardized tests, poor quality of life and abnormalities in daytime behavior," Perfect said. "On the upside, sleep is a potentially modifiable health behavior, so these kids could be helped by a qualified professional to get a better night's sleep."