Children and adolescents who sleep less are more likely to be overweight, according to the results of a new study in America. The sleep patterns of 335 children aged between seven and seventeen were studied by a team from the University of Pittsburgh over a period of three nights. The participant’s body mass indexes (BMI) were calculated as part of the study, and the tests found that those who were overweight slept around 22 minutes less per night. The investigation also found that one hour less of total sleep per night could be associated with a two-fold increased risk of being overweight, and one hour less of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep could be associated with a three-fold risk.
The study, led by Dr. Xianchen Liu has been published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, and was reported in the Daily Telegraph.
"Although the precise mechanisms are currently under investigation, the association between short sleep duration and overweight may be attributed to the interaction of behavioural and biological changes as a result of sleep deprivation," said Dr. Liu.
"Given the fact that the prevalence of overweight among children and adolescents continues to increase and chronic sleep insufficiency becomes more prevalent in modern society, family and school-based sleep interventions that aim to enhance sleep hygiene and increase sleep duration may have important public health implications for the prevention and intervention of obesity and type 2 diabetes in children," added Dr. Liu. "Furthermore, our results demonstrate an important relationship between REM sleep and high BMI and obesity, suggesting that the short sleep–obesity association may be attributed to reduced REM sleep time and decreased activity during REM sleep."
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