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Obesity linked to when and how long we sleep

by Aimee Keenan-Greene

A new study in the journal Obesity  that looked at the timing of sleep and eating says night owls may be at risk of packing on the pounds.

Participants included 52 volunteers, 25 female,  who completed 7 days of wrist actigraphy and food logs.

Fifty-six percent were “normal sleepers” (midpoint of <5:30 AM) and 44 percent were “late sleepers” (midpoint of sleep ≥5:30 AM).

Late sleepers went to bed later, slept less, and had offset meal times.

Late sleepers also consumed more calories at dinner and after 8:00 PM, ate more fast food, drank more full-calorie soda and ate fewer fruits and vegetables.

This led to a higher body mass index (BMI) linked to shorter sleep duration, later sleep timing, caloric consumption after 8:00 PM, and fast food meals.

Another recent study in the journal Pediatrics says obese children are less likely to catch-up on sleep they miss over the on weekend. 

The combination of less sleep and a changing sleep pattern was associated with 'adverse metabolic outcomes'. 

Researchers observed children who slept an average of 8 hours per night, regardless of their weight categorization.

For obese children, sleep duration was shorter and showed more variability on weekends, compared with school days.

For overweight children, a mixed sleep pattern emerged.

Scientists looked at 308 children ages 4 to 10 and assessed them with wrist actigraphs for 1 week in a cross-sectional study, along with BMI assessment.

Fasting morning plasma levels of glucose, insulin, lipids, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein also were measured for a subsample.

Insomnia significantly affects 29 percent of children seen by child psychiatrists, according to a national survey released last summer.

Roughly one-quarter of these patients with insomnia as a "major problem symptom" receive sleep medications, although none are FDA approved for pediatric use, found Judith A. Owens, MD, of Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University in Providence.

Results from the survey of 1,273 members of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry appeared in the August 2010 issue of Sleep Medicine.

Sleep is vital to a child's growth. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends these daily sleep guidelines for kids:

0-2   mon   10.5-18 hours
2-12 mon   12-15 hours
1-3   yrs    12-14 hours
3-5   yrs    11-13 hours
5-12 yrs    10-11 hours