Researchers say that proper amount of sleep and regular sleep routines help in the fight against child obesity.
Previous studies have linked sleep to a child's attention span and performance in school. Now, two studies confirm the amount of sleep a child receives, and their sleep habits, are linked to obesity in children. Researchers at the University of Louisville and the University of Chicago studied 308 children, between the ages of four and 10 years of age. Their findings were published in Pediatrics.
Scientists tracked the sleep patterns, blood testing and body mass index of the children. The research revealed that on average, obese children slept less than the recommended nine to 10 hours per night, and did not adhere to regular sleep routines. Obese children also had blood work results showing they were at risk for type 2 diabetes and future risks of heart disease.
Good sleep routines and sleeping the right amount is the best healthy proposition," remarked David Gozal, chair of the department of pediatrics, at the University of Chicago.
Children who slept the recommended nine to 10 hours per night and who maintained a regular bedtime had a better body mass index, which is a height and weight ratio. The well rested children also had better results on their blood testing. Interestingly, children who did not receive the proper amounts of sleep during the school week, but who "caught up" on their sleep on the weekends, fared better than children who were sleep deprived.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, preschoolers should receive 10-21 hours of sleep per night. School-aged children should receive at least nine hours of sleep per night, while adults only need seven to eight hours of sleep every night.