How long and how well kids sleep matters in obesity prevention, new study finds

A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics put activity monitors similar to a FitBit on 829 adolescents and looked at quality and quantity of sleep and how it related to blood pressure, waist circumference, cholesterol, both triglycerides and HDL, and the potential for insulin resistance.

How long and how well kids sleep matters for their health. American-Statesman Staff

We’ve been writing that kids need more sleep than adults in this chart from the The American Academy of Sleep Medicine:

  • Infants 4 months to 12 months old: 12 to 16 hours (including naps)
  • Children 1 to 2 years old: 11 to 14 hours (including naps)
  • Children 3 to 5 years old: 10 to 13 hours (including naps)
  • Children 6 to 12 years old: 9 to 12 hours
  • Teens 13 to 18 years old: 8 to 10 hours
  • Adults:  7 hours or more

Those guidelines are about quantity, rather than quality. “It’s not just the quantity of sleep that matters, it’s also the quality,” said head researcher of this study, Elizabeth M. Cespedes Feliciano, a staff scientist at Kaiser Permanente health care system in Oakland, Calif.

They found a link between sleep quality and quantity to lower risks for metabolic disorders, healthier waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and fat mass.

When it comes to preventing obesity and related diseases, “sleep is really emerging as a potential for intervention,” Cespedes Feliciano said,

In future studies, the same researchers will also be looking at timing of sleep with the same kids they studied, looking at bedtime and wake time and circadian rhythms.

“Sleep is a pillar of children’s health, right alongside diet and activity and it should really be at the center of a prevention research agenda,”  Cespedes Feliciano said.


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