Even Very Young Kids Need Sleep To Stay Healthy and Eat Less

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Yet another study reports that children need lots of to stay healthy. When young children don’t get enough sleep they tend to eat more calories. The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that 16-month-old children who slept less than 10 hours each day consumed on average 105 calories more per day than children who slept more than 13 hours. This is an increase of about 10 percent, from 982 calories to 1,087 calories. “Associations between eating, weight and sleep have been reported previously in older children and adults, but the study is the first to directly link sleep to energy intake in children under the age of 3 years. The association was observed before differences in weight emerged, strongly suggesting that energy intake is a key pathway through which sleep contributes to weight gain in early childhood. While the exact causes remain unclear, the regulation of appetite hormones may become disrupted by shorter sleeping patterns.”

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