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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



1 Comment

  1. There can be no doubt that sleep has a profound effect on appetite and caloric intake, research supports this, personal experiences support it and you will have difficulty finding anyone who would seriously question this finding. Even when research is clear and in the rare case when the scientific community agrees, the practical implications and behavioral changes that are required can seem quite daunting. The question of why children are not getting enough sleep and for that matter why adults are perpetually sleep deprived is the real and more complex issue. Yes, it is easy to blame technology, but I would argue that the real answer is quite a bit more nuanced and goes to the very heart of the cultural changes we are living through right now. Information explosion has caused over-stimulation for all of us. We are over programmed, over saturated with choices, options, news and activities. Most of us are overcommitment, overworked and over stressed. Just as children have always suffered the ills of history right along with their parents, so too are our children living our reality right along side of us now. The problem is not that we don’t know that we along with our children are tired, the problem is that neither they nor us are anywhere close to willing to unplug, disconnect and risk falling behind. This is the new reality and the world we have chosen to build for ourselves and for our future. This is our new culture, still we each face choices and set our own and our families priorities.

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