Most kids don’t get enough sleep, plain and simple. Lack of sleep doesn’t only lead to sluggishness and inattention; it can also cause kids to pack on the pounds. Researchers at the University of Chicago say that if kids catch up on weekend sleep, it may help prevent them from gaining extra weight.
Chronic sleep deprivation can have long-term effects, everything from catching more colds and viruses to anxiety and depression. This study published in yesterday’s journal Pediatrics, suggests that it’s beneficial to let our kids sleep in on weekends. If you have trouble, like so many of us do, click here for helpful tips on getting your kids to sleep.
Most children between the ages of 4 and 10 do not get the recommended amount of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that preschoolers aged 3-5 sleep 11 to 13 hours daily and children aged 5-10 sleep 10 to 11 hours. But this can be a hard task when some moms don’t make it home from work by that time, or many kids have afternoon activities that aren’t over until 6pm or so …. and then it’s dinner time.
Yet regardless of schedules, sleep needs to be a priority.
The University of Chicago study shows that obese children did sleep less overall, their sleep schedules were more irregular, and they were less likely to experience “catch-up” sleep on the weekends. Compared to children who slept about 9 hours a night, children who slept an average of 7 hours and had the most irregular sleep patterns had a fourfold greater risk of being obese. Children who maintained irregular weekday sleep schedules but made up for lost sleep during weekends were less likely to be obese than children who missed out on the catch-up sleep.
Previous studies have linked insufficient sleep and poor sleep habits to obesity in children before but this study is the first to not rely on parent’s observations and scientifically monitor children’s sleep habits with a device called an Actiwatch, which measures and records motion.
So try your best to keep a regular sleep schedule for your kids, but when they just can’t get those 11 hours of uninterrupted snooze time, let them sleep in that weekend!
Image: Flickr: Jost-HH