The study involved 308 children between the ages of 4 and 10. Children’s sleep time was analyzed for a week via wrist monitors. Researchers recorded Body Mass Index (BMI) which is a measurement of weight and height. They also tested levels of glucose and insulin in some of the children.
Results showed that obese children got less sleep and experienced more variations in their sleeping patterns compared to children of average weight.
Researchers concluded that children who sleep for less time and have irregular sleep schedules are at the greatest risk for health problems.
According to the CDC, childhood obesity has many serious consequences, including increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and asthma. Overweight and obese children are also at a higher risk for becoming socially stigmatized and developing low self-esteem, which can hinder academic and social functioning.
Many children fail to get the sleep they need because of poor sleep hygiene, or bad habits at bedtime; however, the child may be suffering from an undiagnosed sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea.
People often fail to realize that small children, as well as pre-teens and adolescents can suffer from a wide variety of sleep disorders, ranging from sleep apnea to night terrors. Common symptoms of sleep disorders in children include
- excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS)
- disturbed, fragmented sleep
- sleep walking and talking
- confusional arousals
- sleep enuresis (bed wetting)
- snoring or heavy, labored breathing
- difficulty concentrating, paying attention and remembering
- depression and/or anxiety
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), children who are not getting the sleep they need may have developmental or behavioral problems. The AASM recommends the following guidelines for sleep times in children:
- Infants (3 to 11 months): 14 to 15 hours
- Toddlers: 12 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers: 11 to 13 hours
- School-age children: 10 to 11 hours