- On February 9, 2020
There is a new monster under your child’s bed and its name is Obesity! Now this monster isn’t particularly big or hairy, but it sure is scary. Obesity loves to give children type 2 diabetes, joint pain, shortness of breath; and that’s just to name a few. Now parents, no need to fear because I am about to share one way you can scare Obesity right out of your home. Ok now listen closely, it’s ensuring your children get adequate sleep at night. Read on to learn more about how sleep has an effect on childhood obesity.
What is the recommend amount of sleep?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adequate sleep range for newborns (0-3 months) is 14-17 hours each day, infants (4-11 months) is 12-15 hours, toddlers (1-2 years) is 11-14 hours, preschoolers (3-5 years) is 10-13 hours, school age children (6-13 years) is 9-11 hours, and teenagers (14-17 years) is 8-10. Please keep in mind that these are guidelines, your child may not match these ranges exactly.
Ensuring your child gets the proper amount of sleep improves brain function, emotional well-being, and physical health. During sleep, the brain is able to form new pathways that increase your child’s ability to learn and memorize new information. With adequate sleep, children are more adequately equipped to cope with change, control their behavior, and make decisions. Additionally, sleep balances the bodies hormones, such as ghrelin (hunger), leptin (fullness), and insulin (blood sugar). Inadequate sleep can disrupt these hormone levels.
Sleep and childhood obesity
With adequate sleep, ghrelin and leptin are in balance; however, inadequate sleep can cause a decrease in leptin and an increase in ghrelin. This hormonal shift increases how hungry a person feels which can result in consuming an excess of calories. Additionally, inadequate sleep can increase insulin resistance. This increases a child’s risk for diabetes by spiking their blood sugar levels.
In a study of 8,000 children, it was found that children who slept fewer than 10.5 hours a night at age 3 had a 45% higher risk of becoming obese at age 7; this is compared to children who slept 12 hours a night. In a study of 915 infants, infants who slept fewer than 12 hours in a day had twice the chance of being obese at age 3; this is compared to infants who slept more than 12 hours a day. On the other hand, another study looked at bed time rather than sleep duration. The study found that children who went to bed earlier at breakfast daily and the children who went to bed later would snack more and watch TV during lunch.
Remember adequate sleep is just one way to scare Obesity out from under your child’s bed. Providing your child with balanced meals and encouraging daily physical activity are just as important in combating childhood obesity. If you want to learn about more ways to protect your child from Obesity, please visit: https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/
Alexa Watt, Dietetic Intern, Meredith College
Bachelor in Science degree in Dietetics, University of Florida
Bachelor in Science degree in Biology, University of Florida
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