Recent research published in the April journal of Sleep (https://doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsy018) from the University of Warwick has show that children who do not get enough sleep are twice as likely to be overweight than children who do get enough sleep.
They looked at different age groups (infants (0 to <3 years); early childhood (3 to <9 years); middle childhood (9 to <12 years), and adolescents (12 to 18 years). The results showed that “short sleep duration is a risk factor or marker of the development of obesity in infants, children, and adolescents“. Specifically they found that:
- In babies less than 1 year old who got less than 12 hours sleep, there was a 40% increased risk of weight gain.
- For children between 3-9 who got less than 9-10 hours sleep, there was a 57% increased risk of weight gain.
- For children between 9-13 who slept less than 9 hours per night, there was double the risk of increased weight.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) in America recommends different sleep durations for different age groups. The recommendations, as stated on their website, are as follows:
- newborn (0–3 months), 14–17 hours sleep per night
- infant (4–11 months) 12–15 hours sleep per night
- toddler (1–2 years), 11–14 hours sleep per night
- preschool-age (3–5 years), 10–13 hours sleep per night
- school-age (6–13 years), 9–11 hours sleep per night
- teenage (14–17 years), 8–10 hours sleep per night
The study also reported the results of brain imaging studies of people with poor sleep compared to those who sleep well. The study showed that sleep loss increased brain activity in areas of the brain which make you want to eat:
When you do not get enough sleep, your brain makes you feel more hungry than you would have been if you had slept well.
This Morning’s Dr Chris explained the results: