I know that some parents set bed times for their children and some don’t, I came from a family where my mom set a bed time so early for me that I remember she had blackout curtains because it was still light out when she put me to bed! She did it because with four kids, she needed “me” time every day, but there is an interesting new study from New Zealand looking at the relationship between children, bed times, and obesity!
So what is the study about?
It was called the FLAME (Family,Lifestyle, Activity, Movement, and Eating) Study and 244 children and they were measured by weight and x-ray a couple times a year from ages 3-7 and their family answered a questionnaire regarding eating fruits & vegetables, television viewing, and family factors (Mothers BMI- body mass index, smoking during pregnancy, birth weight, and parents education). As well, their amount of sleep an physical activity was monitored through an accelerometer (a device that measures weight and acceleration or force), to know how much actual physical activity the child was getting versus what was reported.
What was found?
Well, each additional hour of sleep in children between the ages of 3 and 5 decreases the BMI by 0.48 and children had a 0.39 decreased risk of being overweight. And they found that the weight was due to an increased amount of fat deposition in the body, which seems like a silly statement, but sometimes weight gain can be from free fats, or increased bloating (fluids), but this is dense fat that is stored in the body. And their major theory is that prolonged lack of sleep in children will lead to long-term negative health effects in late childhood and into adulthood; they do want to perform more studies over the long-term to prove their theory.
Why is this important?
This is so important to realize why sleep is so important and the health effects that is has on us all; with children who have high metabolisms and are growing at a quick rate, with a healthy diet, there is no reason for them to be overweight…unless, as we have just found out, they aren’t getting enough sleep! So think of the effects of sleep deprivation on adults, where we are at a higher risk for various medical problems and obesity. Sometimes it takes a study on children to open our eyes of how important the basics are for our health as adults.
So get your sleep, and make sure that your children are getting enough sleep; I know it can be tough with their crazy school and sports schedules, but it is so important to keep them on a sleep schedule and make sure their bodies have time to rest and grow, and their immune system has a time to recharge. And as adults, we need to get adequate sleep too!!
Yours in Good Health