Many obese children are sleep-deprived, study reports

January 27, 2011

Children ages 5 to 10 should get about 10 to 11 hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but many children don’t get that much—and falling short on sleep might be costing them their health, according to researchers. Case in point: childhood obesity.

Over 300 children aged four to 10 years were recruited for a one-week sleep analysis study; the research included measuring the kids’ body-mass index (BMI) and their levels of insulin, cholesterol, triglycerides and C-reactive protein, which are factors in cardiovascular health.

The results showed that in an average week, the children slept about eight hours—considerably less than is recommended for good health. The study also revealed that their sleep schedules varied widely over the week, especially for obese children, who got far less “catch up” sleep on weekends and remained sleep-deprived.

Children who slept the least, or whose sleep patterns varied a lot throughout the week, were also more likely to have altered levels of insulin, cholesterol and other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.