Fight childhood obesity with adequate sleep

A child sleeping

A sleeping child

Did you know that not sleeping enough really impacts the health of our children? Our children are sleeping 1 hour less today than they did a few decades ago.  Reasons for this loss of 1 hour of sleep range from parents coming home late and keeping children awake to spend time with them to over scheduling of activities for children.

Since children’s brains develop till they are 21 and most of the work is done while they are sleeping. This loss of 1 hour of sleep has a huge impact on them and can cause permanent changes in a child’s brain structure.  It affects academic performance, behavior, childhood obesity and in some cases Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

How does lack of sleep impact obesity?

Children spend about 40% of their sleep period in the slow-wave stage and that stage is very important for controlling insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.  Sleep loss increases the hunger hormone and elevates the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol stimulates the body to make fat. Lack of sleep also disrupts the growth hormone needed to break down the fat.  So lack of sleep could be one factor contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic.

Here’s a link to the Guardian article where all the sleep related studies are discussed. I must warn you this article is very detailed.

So how many  hours should your child  sleep?

Hours of sleep a child needs per day

Hours of sleep a child needs per day

See the WedMD article on more details about how many hours your child should sleep

The poignant part about kids sleeping is that when they are sleeping is the exact moment you want to wake them up and play with them. Check out this blog post on on tips on  how to get kids to develop healthy sleep habits.

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