Catching up on Z's could curb kids' weight
January 24th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Catching up on Z's could curb kids' weight

Recent studies have shown that not getting enough sleep can affect your waistline. Less shuteye means more pounds. This also applies to children, which is tough for some. School, extracurricular activities and busy schedules can keep a child up at night. But research published in the journal Pediatrics finds that when youngsters are given the opportunity to make up for lost sleep by staying in bed longer on weekends and holidays, that extra time cuts down the negative effects of irregular sleep during the week. And that's especially true when it comes to weight gain.

Doctors from the University of Chicago wanted to determine how much sleep healthy kids really get. In order to obtain an accurate measure, researchers used an actigraph (a specialized motion logger) rather than relying on parents, who, they say, usually overestimate by 60-90 minutes the amount of sleep their children get. Investigators also wanted to determine whether sleep duration was associated with increased risk for obesity as well as future risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

In the study, researchers monitored the sleep patterns of 308 children between the ages of 4 and 10 and and recorded their Body Mass Indexes or BMIs. They found that children who had regular sleep schedules and slept the recommended number of hours per night had the least risk of being obese or having unhealthy blood markers. In contrast, children who slept the least  and had irregular sleep schedules had more than a fourfold increase in the risk of being obese and having unhealthy blood markers that indicate the beginning of other conditions.

But investigators also found that sleep-deprived kids who catch up during the weekend reduce that risk from four times to slightly less than three times the obesity risk of kids who get adequate sleep

"Lack of sufficient sleep can have major adverse consequences to the body, such as reduced memory and cognitive performance, lack of attention and focus and in children hyperactivity and ADHD like behaviors." says Dr. David Gozal, physician-in-chief, for the Department of Pediatrics at Comer Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago. "In addition helplessness and depression can develop," he adds.

Reserach shows that lack of sleep can also lead to conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, even cancer.

Gozal concludes, "If you want the best for your child, consistent bedtimes and sleeping the right amount is the best healthy choice."

What are some ways to catch up on your sleep? Gozal recommends you allow yourself to sleep without an alarm clock and stay in bed and sleep as long as you will be able to. Catching up for lost sleep, according the reasearchers, will take longer than people think. For example, if you lose two hours of sleep every night during the weekdays (say sleep 6 hours rather than the 8 hours you would need) then you will accumulate a "sleep debt" of 10 hours. If you now sleep 10 hours each day of the weekend (i.e., two  hours more than what you need), you will have repaid back only four of the 10 hours debt you owe.

But he warns sleeping in during weekends and holidays works only partially and does not fully get rid of the risk associated with reduced sleep and irregular sleep schedules, especially in adults.

"So people shouldn't approach it as the easy way out. That said," says Gozal, " Iit is better than doing nothing."

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. kate

    I think kids these days are given way too much responsibility for their age. On the other side they probably spend a lot of late nights playing video games and surfing the net. Parents need to do a better job at keeping their kids sleep patterns regular and not letting them stay up late during weekends, which will mess up their pattern for the week. http://www.diet-myths.com had an article on sleep and weight.

    January 24, 2011 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Geeshgirl

      Yet, the last parenting article suggested that Helicopter parents were doing more harm than good–"We need to let them fail sometimes." How can we let our children crash and burn when we overburden them?

      January 24, 2011 at 08:16 | Report abuse |
    • Jules Mom

      I agree. Too many late night video game sessions. I think there is a correlation between getting enough sleep and how well taken care of the kids are in general. Better sleep habits, better diet, etc.Too many parents are letting the kids raise themselves because they can't deal with being a parent instead of being a friend.

      January 24, 2011 at 08:49 | Report abuse |
    • f

      theres a song called crash and burn
      really good

      January 24, 2011 at 19:30 | Report abuse |
  2. Maria Ashot

    Lack of sleep - especially when it is chronic - also contributes to the development of mental illness and exacerbates certain kinds of disorders of the brain.

    One of the most insidious misconceptions kids pass along to their peers in school is the lie that some of them 'can get by on 3 or 4 hours of sleep.' The idea that this is actually a good thing - because they are still able to stand up and shuffle along, and sit up in class (sort of) after drinking a few Red Bulls - is a pernicious, actually Dangerous Lie.

    If you seriously want to address this problem, you need to start doing it right away, and make sure schools also cooperate. All kinds of sports activities and classes even are scheduled in some places for 5:30 am, for 6 am - meaning the kid has to get up at 4:30. This is brutal, and particularly onerous when it is being done to a teenage body.

    The teenage years are the ones when humans need the most sleep (especially boys) - after having completed the months of early infancy.

    January 24, 2011 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LEB

      What makes you think teen boys need more sleep than teen girls? Teen girls are the ones more likely to deprive themselves of sleep because they feel like they HAVE to get up at 5:30am to shower and shave, wash, dry, and style their hair, pick out their outfits, and do makeup. When I was a teen, many teen girls would brag about how early they have to get up to look the way they do. The average teen boy "gets" to sleep at least an hour longer than the average teen girl, because no one expects him to look perfect.

      January 24, 2011 at 15:31 | Report abuse |
  3. anonymous2

    Of course today's children's eating and sleep habits are messed up. Unemployment and underemployment is high. This results in stress within the family that passes down to our children. Our horrible economy has resulted in raises in crime rates that affect our very young children. The government has it 100% wrong! Give us back our jobs so parents can provide a safe environment both at home, in the schools, and on the streets. Then the children and parents will eat and sleep properly. We didn't have these problems when Bill Clinton was president.

    January 24, 2011 at 03:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • pazke

      It's funny you should say that because Bill Clinton is one of those people who doesn't sleep much and he frequently kept his staff working late. Bush, however, always called it quits at 6 pm and made his staff go home (I read that on the internet, so it has to be true, right?) Don't get me wrong, I like Bill Clinton WAY more than I like George Bush. But I'm not sure how an article on sleep became political.

      January 24, 2011 at 04:13 | Report abuse |
    • sara

      There may be other factors involved. Obesity has been a problem that spans back further than 2 years. It may have a lot of different things happening. the overuse of High fructose corn syrup, hormones in meat, more of our food is wrapped in plastic, school lunches going for cheaper ingredients. All of this needs to be looked at. Michelle O. is just doing what every first lady does and that is take a national issue and bring focus on it. Not a big deal, it might even get something done with the help of the first lady. Cut her some slack. Anything she did you probably wouldn't agree with. When you don't like someone you tend to not like anything that they do.

      January 24, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      Clinton happened to be president during the 90s tech boom. That was pure luck, he didn't cause it. Nor did Bush cause the recession that followed (though his administration didn't do much to help fix it for anyone but the super-rich, either). In fact, some policies that went into place during Clinton's era in regards to encouraging homeownership are directly or indirectly responsible for the housing market crash.

      Similarly, not much that Obama is able to do will improve or worsen our economic situation while he is still in office, though results of decisions made during his administration might be felt a decade or two after the fact. The reality is that no President or administration is in control of the global economy. There are factors at work that not even the best President can influence or control.

      January 24, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse |
  4. anonymous2

    A child cannot sleep, eat, and do well in life if the family unit is not secure and strong. When a child senses that the parents are stressed, the stress passes on to the children. When a child knows that the extended family, aunts-uncles-cousins-grandparents, are lacking money, food, proper housing, and medical care, the child feels insecure and cannot function well in all areas of life. When our children see that their grandparents end up broke and disheartened due to today's economics and financial cutbacks, the children not only feel insecure, let alone sleep well, but question "why should they work hard when they end up with nothing in the end". Our government has it backwards. Each family member is extremely important. It takes the full extended family to raise a child. Children are not stupid!

    January 24, 2011 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bad Patient

      whole-heartedly agree. i would even call it trauma. the question that i have is how do we fix that trauma across the entire planet? it's bigger than just us. we have a world that needs attention. seems like we need to prioritize our needs (food/water, clothes, housing) and work toward safe, well educated. i have to admit that it looks like the bottom is falling out, but if we get smart about this...seems like we might have a chance. (i don't see us being all that smart...but who knows? maybe people are getting smarter.)

      January 24, 2011 at 05:12 | Report abuse |
  5. anonymous2

    When the current "First Lady" has made weight of children her issue, then this article is political.

    January 24, 2011 at 04:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Catie

      I am glad that someone is finally doing something about school lunches. But it didnt take the President and his Wife. All they have to do is remove the cookies and sodas from schools. I, however, do not want the government sticking their noses in my business at home. I realize this presidential couple think they know better than us to raise our kids but I will do a fine job without them, thank you. I am so tired of Him and Michelle looking down their noses at lower and middle class Americans. I am so sorry I voted for him.

      January 24, 2011 at 06:12 | Report abuse |
    • Tammy

      Catie, Please explain why you believe President Obama and the First Lady are looking down at the middle class? You are obviously misinformed. When you get that extra pay in your check beginning in February, I want you to write a check to the government and send it back. It's this type of misinformed garbage that really makes me angry. I voted for President Obama. I am not happy with everything that he has done but I definitely think this country is better off now than it was several years ago. You need to go back and read his inaugural speech.He said change wouldn't be easy and he said you will not agree with everything I do. Please note: If government wasn't in your business, things would be lot worse for the middle class. Regarding this article on sleep and obesity, the First Lady chose the topic of childhood obesity because it is important. There are so many young people overweight and diagnosed with illnesses related to poor eating habits. I work really hard to keep our 11 year on a structured schedule while encouraging exercise, temperance, and a healthy diet. I am not always successful with the healthy diet. However, because I have been pretty successful in the other three areas, he has a pretty healthy body weight. The effects of sleep deprivation are evident when I allow him to stay up even one extra hour on a school night. The next morning is pure hell. He is slow, drags himself around, forgets the things he is supposed to do in the morning, and is just plain irritable. I appreciate this article for reminding me about the importance of regular sleep patterns. I am going to have my husband read this article. He is sleep deprived and I see the results everyday. I plan to pass this article on to him.

      January 24, 2011 at 08:29 | Report abuse |
    • sara

      Catie, get over yourself. Not everything is about you. If you're doing a good job than great. But some kids need to be protected from their parents and I love the fact that Michelle is using her celebrity to highlight this epidemic. Nobody is looking down their noses at you and the governments not trying to control anything. Michelle is just trying to start a much needed conversation. Paranoid much...

      January 24, 2011 at 09:35 | Report abuse |
  6. Celeste

    I can definitely see how sleep has a big effect on weight in teens.

    When I was on the high school swim team I always seemed to gain weight during the swim season despite the fact that I'd practice 1-1.5 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours after school. Swimming burns an insane amount of calories, but between swimming, school, and other activities I was involved in I was lucky if I got to bed by 11 PM, only to get up at like 5 AM the next day. Then being so dead tired from hours of practice, school and work did not lend to the healthiest eating habits. However, when I look back I should have been burning a couple thousand of calories (swimming burns 500-800 calories an hour over 3.5-4 hours a day) and I know I wasn't eating that many calories to explain the weight gain (I really should have lost weight). I was never very overweight, more like the high side of healthy range to slightly overweight.

    January 24, 2011 at 04:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Xilo

    I work night shift and go to school full time. During the week, I get out of class at 2 pm and start work at 10 pm. Take into account time for travel, food, shower, etc., and I'm lucky to get 5-6 hours of sleep, even if I were a person who could fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow (I'm not). When I finally get a day off, it's not unusual for me to sleep 12, 14 or even 16 hours at a stretch. Sleep deprivation, even if you're only missing an hour or two at a time, is brutal.

    January 24, 2011 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Catie

    While I think kids are busier and probably dont get enough sleep. I have a ten year old who goes to bed between 8 and 8:30 every night. She plays soccer and we dont keep junk in the house. She craves carb's and she is overweight. So what is the excuse here. I dont allow her to go crazy with food. I am not super strict but she makes pretty decent choices. For example she always wants a salad with her dinner, those kinds of things. I have a 14 year old who I cant keep out of the cabinets, eats horribly, and I am always catching her under covers late a night on her phone. She is tiny. Go figure

    January 24, 2011 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sara

      Oh, this is why you are so sensitive. I am sorry about your situation, but don't blame it on Michelle. Your anger about this is displaced.

      January 24, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
    • anonymous2

      Your 14 year old daughter hit puberty! Keep a check on her habits. Any drugs? Alcohol? Boys!!!!!!
      Your younger daughter has what is called "baby fat". She may have a growth spurt of 2 to 4 inches within 2 years.
      Family values are the key. What do the grandparents say? Are they involved? What about the rest of your extended family?
      (When I address this health issue, I am not referring to the lazy parents who make only pop tarts available for breakfast and fast food for the rest of the eating. Those type of people don't eat what we call meals. They don't even eat with the family.)

      January 24, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
    • angela

      catie: i too have a 9 yr old son.. who is very very active... we dont keep junk food in our house.. adn he also has a bedtime of 9 pm.... he too has a weight issue.. but sometimes i think it may just be the child .. they are going to hita growth spurt and then then they will lose some weight.. their metabolism will kick in. so i would nt worry so much until she hits puberty.... look at your teenager?? all people are different!!! but i totally uinderstand your conmcrn!!!

      January 24, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy


      I think the main problem is that you don't understand the difference between "anecdote" and "data."

      January 24, 2011 at 19:08 | Report abuse |
  9. barowner

    Wow, this is really bad science. Statistical research is valuable in scientific study but it cannot take the place of a well designed experimental paradigm. Doesn't it seem reasonable to anyone else that one possible explanation of the results of this "study" is that children who have regular sleep patterns probably receive better parental care? If they receive better care, they probably have better nutrition and general health and are less likely to become obese. My college experimental psychology professor told me once that media science would be the end of us. He was even smarter that I thought he was after all.

    January 24, 2011 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kala

      totally agree- or its possible that kids that sleep better have brains that organize better in general and therefore bodies that function better. This study leaves a lot to be desired, U of C should be ashamed of this article.

      January 24, 2011 at 08:03 | Report abuse |
    • s5g

      Finally, someone that understands this article is bogus. Journalism is not research and this writer clearly did not thoroughly explain the study or even understand the implications. You actually have a good theory about parenting affecting the child's lifestyle which could cause them to gain weight or vice versa. All this article managed to accomplish is uneducated and rude comments about "fat children" and "pigs," as well as completely off-topic comments regarding the government and our President. The internet should have stricter posting regulations so that our society is not plagued with this type of ridiculous conversation.

      January 24, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin

    Very cool – a sleep diet – works for me. I go back to bed.

    January 24, 2011 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Christina

    I know that researchers take great care to control variables in a study, but couldn't it be as simple as parents who ensure their children get adequate amounts of sleep also encourage other healthy lifestyle habits such as a nutritious diet and physical activity? That could account for lower rates of obesity in the group studied.

    January 24, 2011 at 08:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Karen

    It's a simple formula. You can't eat if you are asleep!

    January 24, 2011 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • anonymous2

      And...If you sleep too much, you'll never learn anything or get anywhere in with your occupation.

      January 24, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
  13. AmyLynn

    Food Chemicals are the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis NOT Sleep!

    The FDA and Drug makers know this and are laughing to the Billionaire$$$ bank!

    The food chemicals break the gut(insulin) and this is the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis

    A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes and Obesity in now 10 countries and the drug makers do not promote the story

    just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

    January 24, 2011 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kierra

      You are so right they get a kick out of it and while they're sitting back looking at us die and they won't budge but for themselves

      February 4, 2011 at 09:05 | Report abuse |
  14. ShockyShah

    Whose the genius that figured this one out. I like to sleep with me butt in the air with flowers sticking out of it like a vase.

    January 24, 2011 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kaitlyn


      January 24, 2011 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
    • KIDS123

      we Are kid let us sleep and leave us alone and let us do bad things in the world to you people and you will suffer

      January 24, 2011 at 09:36 | Report abuse |
    • sara

      TMI ! Thanks for the visual...

      January 24, 2011 at 09:50 | Report abuse |
  15. my9cats

    Makes sense. If a person is sleeping they're not eating.
    Don't need a study for that.

    January 24, 2011 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Preposterous

    School just starts way too early for kids, especially highschoolers who are typically most sleep deprived. Between balancing a job, school projects and homework along with trying to catch a bus at 7 in the morning is a heavy burden. Many kids go to work directly after school and sometimes don't get out until 9 or 10 at night along with having to try and eat dinner right before bed, which is typically something quick and unhealthy, and scrambling to do homework. Many teens don't get to bed until midnight or 1 am and then need to be up by six. A lot of kids then skip breakfast in their rush to leave and end up binging on unhealthy snacks later in the afternoon. Also, if the child doesn't plan on being a teacher, the schedule doesn't match up with that of a regular 9 to 5 work day. The school schedule should be adjusted even by just an hour to allow kids to get more sleep.

    January 24, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. KIDS123

    School just starts way too early for kids, especially highschoolers who are typically most sleep deprived. Between balancing a job, school projects and homework along with trying to catch a bus at 7 in the morning is a heavy burden. Many kids go to work directly after school and sometimes don't get out until 9 or 10 at night along with having to try and eat dinner right before bed, which is typically something quick and unhealthy, and scrambling to do homework. Many teens don't get to bed until midnight or 1 am and then need to be up by six. A lot of kids then skip breakfast in their rush to leave and end up binging on unhealthy snacks later in the afternoon. Also, if the child doesn't plan on being a teacher, the schedule doesn't match up with that of a regular 9 to 5 work day. The school schedule should be adjusted even by just an hour to allow kids to get more sleep

    January 24, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. KIDS123


    January 24, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Bob F

    I'm sure that studies like this are well controlled and statistically significant. We see them, particularly from the medical field, on a daily basis. I typically ignore them and make no effort to incorporate their recommendations into my life. Why? Because there is NEVER a guarantee that conclusions that apply to a population (the study subjects) will actually apply to a random individual. This study is a good example. When I was a child, my parents let me sleep as much as I wanted. I went to bed early (8:00 usually) and slept until 6:30 – 7:00 am (school started at 9:30 for me). Yet today I am overweight though I am healthy. I have well-controlled hypertension but no other chronic diseases. I have no sign of diabetes. It is my opinion that if people lead a well (but not over) -managed lifestyle, they will acheive a well-balanced and satisfying life. Studies like this really have but one purpose: to help earn university tenure for the researchers.

    January 24, 2011 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeremy

      Yep, you sure are smarter than all them ivory tower sciency-types who can't possibly fathom what it's like in the real world.

      Also, your anecdote about being (your own admission) overweight despite getting plenty of sleep completely invalidates their study of the population, and everyone else should also ignore the study because of it.

      January 24, 2011 at 20:14 | Report abuse |
  20. AJ

    Tell you... I slept alot as a kid, still do. Fat kid then... still fat now. Its all about metabolism and exercise. I ran around all the time and I was still the fat kid ( not obese, fat – big difference)

    In high school, social science course had a sleep study. There was a first hour course, and another just after lunch time. First hour course kids HAD to go to bed at Midnight, and the other course took a nap. This was done every day for 2 weeks. What was found out about this little study? Personally I had the first hour course and getting that extra 45min to sleep in did wonders. Same for nearly every single other student....but what about the other course? The ones that got to take a nap in the middle of the day? Same result. Everyone of them agreed that after school sport practices went better and they all paid more attention in the last half of the day. 'Mazing what a little bit more sleep can do.

    January 24, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Mary

    I'm 5.4" and 100 pounds, rather slim but fit, and have no health problems. I only get six hours of sleep a night. I call BS.

    January 24, 2011 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tracey

      Right, because one person is representative of everyone. Common sense, get you some.

      January 24, 2011 at 10:33 | Report abuse |
  22. Haikong

    So a kid sitting on the couch in front of the TV gets fat, but if he falls asleep on the couch, he'll lose weight?

    January 24, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Rob

    Clearly, our priorities in this country (and in many others) are a bit mixed up. We get too little sleep, eat horribly, don't exercise, and then wonder why it is that our bodies are collectively falling apart at the expense of both our quality of life and our financial well-being. Create a schedule that fits your body and stick to it. The same discipline with which many people approach their work life should be applied to taking care of their bodies. Children are an especially vulnerable group, but also one that can be fixed easily with proper guidance. Put your kids to bed at the right time and then go to sleep yourself. Feed each other correctly and get some exercise as a family. Everyone will benefit from a bit more positive attention paid to the body we rely on every day to get us through. There's more to life than chasing money and watching TV.


    January 24, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Staceyann Dolenti

    Excuss me while I go take a nap 😉

    Staceyann C Dolenti

    January 24, 2011 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Eric Wilminton, DE

    Personally, I blame Edison for it. If it wasn't for his light bulb people would be less likely to be up so late! We should ban light bulbs so that we go back to an American where children respected their elders and stayed off their lawns! Otherwise we are DOOMED!! DOOMED I say!!!

    January 24, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 1nd3p3nd3nt

    I've had an incredible metabolism for most of my life. I seem to be able to eat what I like and keep my weight the same without much exercise at all. I am curious if there are any studies relating thinking, imagining, using your brain, whatever you want to call it, to weight loss or calorie usage.

    Please understand, I am NOT saying I am smart, lol, just that I use my brain a lot. I am curious if anyone out there has any similar experiences.

    January 24, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. amber

    I agree kids do need sleep just like adults. My kids get 10-12 hours asleep daily. They go to school and each are in 2 after school activities during the week that spread out. I notice a friend who has her child same age as my kids gets between maybe 5-7 hrs and goes to school only has many issues with behaivor and grades. It does make a difference. However it makes a difference in adults to. Adults need more sleep toooooooooo!

    January 24, 2011 at 11:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Bob

    Everybody is in rush these days.. They pride them selves on working more hrs and sleeping less.. To be a productive worker, citizen YOU NEED A GOOD NITES SLEEP!

    January 24, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Tina Gobbler

    I never got much sleep as a child. I always had these dreams of my daddy coming into the room naked and getting into bed with me. It seems I had that dream almost 2 to 3 times weekly from the ages of 6 to 16. I tried to talk to my mom about it but she would just say "Serves ya right. You are too pretty for your own good". Which even to this day I dont understand.

    January 24, 2011 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Uncle Lester

      Tina...are you sure those were dreams? Perhaps you are repressing something...perhaps.

      January 24, 2011 at 13:28 | Report abuse |
  30. Sarah in CA

    Too bad the article doesn't mention what the actual sleep recommendations are for the children they are talking about...

    January 24, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. mimi_nef

    This isn't rocket science. How much was wasted on this study?

    When you're tired, you crave energy. Your body craves food to gain more energy. The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to overeat, particularly on high-carb and high-sugar foods.

    Children need a minimum of nine hours of sleep a day. Oftentimes, teenagers need even more.

    It's common sense. Way too many people don't get enough sleep.

    January 24, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. kenoe

    This article struck home for me too. On Sunday afternoon, I was cleaning and my 5 year old comes up to me and is distraught because he had weighed himself on the scale and noted that he had lost 6 pounds. The scale was sitting on the carpet instead of the tile but before I could explain this he had come up with his own explanation. He told me, "Mom, I think I lost weight today because I slept late this morning." I spent yesterday sharing my son's diet techniques as a joke with friends, today it is confirmed by research.

    Remember this is not the full research article and we may not have all the information about the study at our disposal. What is being reported here is that healthy sleep schedules can influence the metabolism of children. Children who had unhealthy sleep schedules had higher rates of being overweight. The sample was small but this article does not tell us the extraneous factors that were considered. It also does not state that the results apply to ALL situations at ALL times. We are still individuals and each family has individual considerations. I also see the biggest news story here being that by letting children catch up on sleep by sleeping longer hours on the weekend helps to reduce their chances of obesity. So, in those cases when the children do have after school responsibilities and go long hours Monday thru Friday, let them have the weekend to sleep late and nap to recover some of those hours.

    January 24, 2011 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. kenoe

    This article struck a note for me today. On Sunday my 5 year old came to me distraught that he had lost 6 pounds since the previous day. The scale was on the carpet instead of the tile but before I had a chance to explain this to him he had developed his own explanation. He said to me, "Mom, I think I lost weight today because I slept too long this morning." I spent the rest of the day sharing my son's diet techniques with my friends as a joke. Today, his method is confirmed by research.

    Remember this is not the full research article and we may not have all the information about the study at our disposal. What is being reported here is that helathy sleep schedules can influence the weight of children. Children who had unhealthy sleep schedules had higher rates of being overweight. The sample was small but this article does not tell us the extraneous factors that were considered. It also does not state that the results apply to ALL situations at ALL times so we have to remember that we are still individuals and each family has individual considerations. I also see the biggest news story here being that by letting children catch up on sleep by sleeping longer hours on the weekend helps to reduce their chances of obesity. So, in those cases when the children do have after school responsibilities and go long hours Monday thru Friday, let them have the weekend to sleep late and nap to recover some of those hours.

    January 24, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. angela

    heheheh!! tha is kinda funny!!!!! but you are right!!! no junmk food... go to bed.. leave the video games alone... yea! or the rabbit get it!! lol!!! jk!!

    January 24, 2011 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. LEB

    The current school day (8am to 3pm) is just not realistic for kids or teens, and does not encourage optimum learning. It's been proven repeatedly that teens are biologically wired to stay up later and sleep later, so when they're getting up at 6am to make it to an 8am class, it's no wonder they're tired and want to sleep until mid-afternoon on weekends.

    The school day, frankly, needs to be pushed back to start no earlier than 9am. If that means kids don't get out of school until 4pm or 5pm, so what? If parents like their kids getting out at 3pm, then the school year could simply be extended another 30 days to the school year. Shorter school days would enhance children's attention spans, and shorter summers would increase knowledge retention to that teachers would waste less time reviewing the previous year's instruction before introducing new material. It's a win-win all around.

    January 24, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. datruth

    I'm sorry. You can disagree with me if you want. But when I see a fat kid, or a fat person in general, all I can think of is his/her serious lack of self control. Blame it on all sorts of factors, but what it comes down to is having discpline and the courage to face an obstacle that may seem too big to tackle. PUT THE FOOD DOWN. GO FOR A WALK. GO TO BED EARLY. and DRINK MORE WATER. Nuff said.

    January 24, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. anonymous2

    How are parents supposed to punish kids now? Keep them up all night eating???

    January 24, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. KC_in_CA

    This is a no brainer to any semi-educated parent. Babies have a high sleep need. That need slowly drops druing childhood to a low of about 9 hours just before puberty. Then it spikes back up during the teen years, dropping again to about 8 hours by the early 20's. But few kids (or adults) get the sleep they need. For very young children (preschool and earlier), the cause is the parents...
    If I put my baby to sleep when he's tired, he'll never get to see his daddy/mommy in the evening! (hint – you have YEARS of playtime ahead of you but now is the time for critical physical and mental growth... both of which require proper sleep.)
    My child isn't tired – just look at how much energy he/she has running around the room! (hint- a young child racing around the room in the evening is acutally pumped full of adrenaline and should have been put to bed at least an hour before)
    A late schedule works for me so I keep my child up until 11pm so we can play. (hint- you are a PARENT, not a friend)

    January 24, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Jim

    To those who have suggested that the etiology at work here is differences in parenting: that statement has merit, but you can't discount the real physiological & hormonal alterations that are also playing a (likely more important) role.

    At any rate, there are very real and measurable consequences to lack of sleep, especially in memory & learning performance. Not only is sleep required to consolidate things learned in a day, but it's also required for optimal performance the following day. Sounds intuitive, but many don't realize what a disservice sub-optimal sleep is doing – you're literally throwing information out the window.

    Finally, be aware that recent studies have shown that the "optimal amount of sleep may actually be shorter than we previously thought. Sleeping 8hr have been linked to increased mortality recently, and there may be something to these findings.

    At the least, they believe it's important enough to teach in medical school.

    January 24, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • anonymous2

      This entire article about children and sleep has gone overboard. Jim, haven't you read how many doctors and those assisting doctors during operations have fallen asleep during the operating procedures?
      Common sense should prevail for everyone.

      January 24, 2011 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Wow, I used the "greater than" & "less than" signs and they must have been interpreted as an attempt at HTML. Here's what it should have said:

      "Sleeping less than 6 hours and greater than 8 hours have been linked to increased mortality..."

      At any rate, these correlations have led to the suggestion of a "sweet spot" for sleep.

      I'm certainly aware of the issues surrounding sleep in the medical field. I thought the topic was sleep deprivation and overweight/obesity in children, not overworked surgeons? I'm also not sure I understand what you mean by "overboard."

      January 24, 2011 at 20:55 | Report abuse |
  40. Darrell

    I find it ironic, to say the least, that the first advertisement displayed when I opened this article was from McDonald's. Featuring a BIG BREAKFAST WITH HOTCAKES (emphasis theirs) for $4 in connection with an article on childhood obesity and overall health, is either egregious carelessness or the worst sort of commercial pandering to a targeted audience by CNN's marketers, especially when it appears next to a child who appears to be roughly 8 years old.

    From the McD's website: that meal has approximately 1,100 calories, that is, ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED calories! That's more than half of the daily calories most adults require for good nutrition, for pity's sake. Half of those are from FAT! The meal has 100% of the saturated (bad) fat an ADULT is supposed to consume daily for a healthy diet. It has 200% of the cholesterol an adult should consume daily, and nearly all the salt.

    The ad's placement in this article is offensive, and given the effort surely expended to place it precisely on the page so as not to be missed, all the more so. I am speaking here only of CNN's unprincipled marketing efforts, and not responsibility for one's own decisions.

    January 24, 2011 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. anonymous2

    This study has gone overboard for the masses. The most obvious and sound medical procedure to see why a person is obese, is to check the thyroid function.

    January 24, 2011 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jim

      I'm sorry but I'm still not following – "for the masses"?

      As for thyroid dysfunction, that's a common misconception. Assessing thyroid function is important when warranted, but it's not even close to a primary etiology of obesity. If it were, we would be able to solve the obesity epidemic with Synthroid.

      I have a post on this study and others scheduled for 8AM tomorrow (1/25), with some interesting information about sleep & memory/cognitive function. I recommend taking a look if this interests you. Cheers.

      January 24, 2011 at 23:41 | Report abuse |
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