A new study examined the relationship between sleep duration and obesity in children.
The study involved 5,159 children from 13 schools in Hong Kong; they had a mean age of 9 years. Sleep times and other data were collected using questionnaires.
Results show that children with shorter sleep durations had higher body mass index scores. Children slept for more than 10 hours at night on weekends and holidays; but they slept for only a little more than nine hours on school nights.
Children who slept less than eight hours during weekdays were more than two times more likely to be overweight or obese. The risk was highest in children who did not compensate for weekday sleep loss by sleeping longer on weekends and holidays.
The Sleep Education Blog has reported on a variety of factors that contribute to sleep loss in children. These include family status, prenatal influences, inactivity and watching TV.
Other studies also have linked sleep duration to the risk of obesity. So what is a parent to do?
Don’t wait for your child to “catch up” on sleep over the weekend; help him or her get more sleep during the week to avoid building up a sleep debt.
In July the Sleep Education Blog reported that children who go to bed after 9 p.m. take longer to fall asleep; they also have a shorter total sleep time.
So make sure your child has time to wind down and get in bed before 9 p.m. each night. One way to help is to turn off the TV and the computer earlier in the evening.
What helps your children get to bed early on school nights?