How Does Type 1 Diabetes Impact the Sleep of Children with T1D and Their Parents?

Managing type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a challenge 24/7. Nighttime hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia can be symptomless and go undetected, which often makes it even more complex. This is why many parents who have children with T1D regularly wake up in the middle of the night to check on their children’s blood sugar levels.

A US research team looked at how diabetes impacted the sleep quality of children and their parents. A chronic lack of sleep can have serious consequences on physical and mental health.

Regardless of how blood sugar was managed (either with a CGM or a capillary blood sugar meter), the researchers found that children with T1D aged 2 to 5 usually follow the sleep recommendations of 10 to 13 hours each night. However, parents generally sleep less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours.

What about children using CGMs?

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems display the blood sugar curve from the past hours thanks to a subcutaneous sensor worn on the body. They help to anticipate hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic episodes and can be helpful for parents who monitor their children’s blood sugar at night

The US study found that parents of children who used a CGM reported fewer sleeping difficulties in their children than parents of children who didn’t use a CGM. Children with CGMs looked less tired during the day. However, parents of children who used a CGM experienced the opposite and reported more sleeping difficulties.

In short, it seems that CGMs do improve the sleep quality of children with T1D, but could also have the opposite effect on their parents. The research team suggested that with a CGM, parents tend to wake up more often to monitor their children’s blood sugar.

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Reference

  • Sinisterra, M., Hamburger, S., Tully, C., Hamburger, E., Jaser, S., & Streisand, R. (2020). Young Children with Type 1 Diabetes: Sleep, Health-Related Quality of Life, and Continuous Glucose Monitor Use. Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics. doi: 10.1089/dia.2019.0437