Early to Bed Makes Kids Healthy, Wealthy and Wise?

CB101888Regular readers are by now well aware that lack of sleep (together with our obesogenic environment) may well be one of the central drivers of the obesity epidemic – kids not excluded.

So far much of this focus on sleep comes from compelling observational data, animal experiments and acute “physiological” studies in humans.

Now, a paper by Chantelle Hart and colleagues from Brown University, Providence, RI, published in Pediatrics, provides the first evidence from a randomised controlled trial that increasing sleep duration in kids may well have benefits in terms of eating behaviour and weight.

This study used a within-subjects, counterbalanced, crossover design, in 37 children, 8 to 11 years of age (27% overweight/obese) over 3 weeks.

Children slept their typical amount at home for 1 week and were then randomized to either increase or decrease their time in bed by 1.5 hours per night for 1 week, completing the alternate schedule on the third week.

Participants achieved a 2 hour, 21 minute difference in sleep period time resulting in a (reported) average reduction of 134 kcal/day less than with usual sleep.

This change in “appetite” was accompanied by a significant drop in leptin levels and even a 0.2 Kg reduction in body weight.

While sleep is unlikely to be the panacea for obesity management, these findings certainly reinforce the notion that one factor contributing to childhood obesity may well be the sleep-starvation of our kids that are deprived of sleep for all kinds of reasons, not least their “personal entertainment devices” (yes, even !! year olds have those!).

So, although an extra hour of sleep may not make your kid any wealthier or wiser (at least not based on this study), improved weight-related health may well be a benefit.

If you have any personal experience with how lack of sleep affect your or your kids appetite, I’d like to hear about it.

Atlant, GA

ResearchBlogging.orgHart CN, Carskadon MA, Considine RV, Fava JL, Lawton J, Raynor HA, Jelalian E, Owens J, & Wing R (2013). Changes in Children’s Sleep Duration on Food Intake, Weight, and Leptin. Pediatrics PMID: 24190680