Study Says Early to Bed, Less Chance of Weight Gain

sleeping early and weight loss

Your child’s bedtime may be predictive of his or her risk of being obese later in life.

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Obviously, it is important to start early in life setting up health habits that can last into adulthood. Preventing weight gain, for example, is best accomplished by starting children off with good a good diet, regular exercise – and an early bedtime.

Poor sleep, especially short sleep duration, is a risk factor for obesity. Children who go to bed late often do not get enough sleep for optimal health, says researchers with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

This team of researchers found that preschool children who are in bed by 8pm are less likely to be obese in their adolescent years than children who stay up past 9pm. Among those who went to bed early, 10% were obese as teens compared to 16% of the “night owls”.

Dr. Sarah E. Anderson, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Ohio State University, says, “This provides more evidence that having an early regular bedtime and bedtime routine for young children is helpful.” In addition to weight concerns, routine bedtimes were found to reduce behavior problems in children as well, note the study authors.

The following suggestions by the Cleveland Clinic may help get your child into a better sleep routine:

• Set a schedule that is the same for each day, whether it is a weekday or weekend. Consistent bed times make it more likely that children get sufficient sleep.

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• If you’d like to establish an earlier sleep time, start setting bedtime 15 minutes early every few nights until you meet your new goal.

• Plan up to one hour of quiet time before bed to wind down. Avoid TV watching, computer gaming, or heavy homework.

• Set up a reward system – even just positive praise – so that the child is encouraged about bedtime, rather than anxious about it.

• Changing habits takes time, so be patient.

Journal Reference:
Sarah E. Anderson PhD, Rebecca Andridge PhD, Robert. C. Whitaker MD MPH. Bedtime in Preschool-Aged Children and Risk for Adolescent Obesity. The Journal of Pediatrics, 2016. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.06.005

Additional Resource: Cleveland Clinic

Photo Credit: By Sozialutopist - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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