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Goodnight, Sleepy Head: The Link Between Sleep and Childhood Obesity

Everyone knows how great it feels to get a good night's sleep. You wake up feeling refreshed and alert. You're concentration and focus is better. Overall, you just feel good.

The health benefits are hard to ignore, too. Over the years, researchers have found that adequate sleep can help improve immune function, memory, and learning. And now, there is one more reason to get some good shut eye.

A new study has found that children who get insufficient sleep have a higher risk of being overweight or obese.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that children who slept less had a higher risk of unhealthy bodyweight. Children who slept less both during the week and on weekends were four times more likely to be obese than those who slept more. Children who slept less during the week, but "caught up" on the weekends were three times as likely to be obese.

Additionally, the study found that the sleep habits of the obese children were more varied, and they were less likely to catch up on the weekends.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children between the ages of 5 and 10 years get 9 to 10 hours of sleep per night, and kids between the ages of 10 and 17 get 8.5 to 9.25 hours.

The Reasons Behind the Link
Interrupted sleep, disordered sleeping, and short sleeping spans are all related to sleep deprivation. Researchers believe that sleeping less wreaks havoc on the body's metabolism and endocrine system, especially during childhood, when the body is still developing.

A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism also found that lack of sleep affects the levels of gherlin and leptin in the body, both of which regulate hunger and appetite, and cortisol, which has been linked to insulin resistance and a higher BMI.



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