In the United States of America, sleep disruption is a big concern. One-third of people in the United States do not get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night, which is damaging to their overall health (Watson et al., 2015). According to a consensus statement published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine, despite the requirement for 10–12 hours of sleep each night, many five- to ten-year-old’s are not receiving enough rest (Paruthi et al., 2016). As with adults, it seems that children who do not obtain the necessary amount of sleep are at a higher risk for a variety of health problems.
Pediatric obesity is a developing worry among these sleep-related health issues, especially in relation to sleep.
Our biorhythms include a “planned” time for recovery known as sleep, which allows for the creation and repair of tissues while we are sleeping. The high levels of hormone activity that occur during sleep contribute to the regulation of a variety of physiological processes, including those that influence cognitive function, behaviour, and physical growth. All of these factors are significantly impacted by poor sleep quality. Due to the rapid pace at which children’s brains and bodies are growing, sleep deprivation might significantly hinder the development process.
Investigations on the role that this disturbance may play in the growth in the incidence of obesity have yielded important findings:
- According to study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, reducing the amount of time young children (ages 0 to 4 years) spend sleeping at night was associated with an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese. Daytime sleep (naps) did not improve risk (Bell and Zimmerman, 2010).
According to the results of a study published in Pediatrics, children between the ages of four and ten with the shortest sleep durations were four times as likely to be fat. Alterations in insulin levels, LDL cholesterol levels, and C-reactive protein levels were also associated with short sleep durations and irregular sleep patterns (Spruyt et al., 2010).
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign performed research on the connection between family rituals and the following health outcomes. Children who sleep fewer than seven hours each night are three times more likely to become fat, according to their findings. In addition, researchers discovered that children whose parents slept fewer than seven hours each night were 1.30 times as likely to be obese. The study’s results lead the researchers to conclude that sleep may be one of the most important early factors to target in the battle against childhood obesity (Jones et al, 2014).
These findings are not limited to the direct relationship between sleep and childhood obesity. It seems that a lack of sleep during infancy may raise a person’s likelihood of becoming fat in adulthood.
- According to the results of a New Zealand study including more than 1,000 participants, having lower sleep durations as a child was connected with an increased likelihood of being fat by age 32. (Landhuis et al., 2008).
- The journal Obesity published the results of a meta-analysis that included more than 36 prior research and found a significant correlation between short sleep duration during infancy and lifelong obesity (Patel and Hu, 2017).
What is the Relationship Between Insufficient Sleep and Childhood Obesity?
Despite major breakthroughs, it is difficult, according to the findings of the researchers, to specify exactly why and how insufficient sleep relates to childhood obesity. The topic of whether the chicken or the egg arrived first as a potential explanation for this phenomenon has been proposed. The incidence of sleep problems, such as sleep apnea, is much higher among obese children. On the other hand, the hypothesized mechanisms that explain how sleep impacts obesity are similar in both adults and children.
An Uneven Level of Hunger Hormones
When sleep is interrupted, regardless of age, the amount of the hormone leptin falls significantly. This hormone sends a signal to the brain when it is OK to stop eating. This reduction is followed by a spike in the hormone ghrelin, which increases one’s desire for food and, as a result, increases the number of calories ingested.
Reduced Requirement for Available Energy
Insomnia causes a decline in core temperature, which in turn contributes to fatigue. Children and adults who are weary are less likely to engage in physical exercise.
Cortisol concentrations have increased
It has been observed that insufficient sleep may cause a rapid increase in the stress hormone cortisol levels. Long-term increases in cortisol have been connected with insulin resistance and weight gain in both adults and children (Speigel et al., 2015).
These findings demonstrate conclusively that a lack of sleep leads to the epidemic of childhood obesity. However, there are preventive actions parents may do to help improve their children’s sleeping patterns.
Reduce the amount of time you spend on electronic devices before bed. There is a relationship between children sleeping less and the amount of time they spend watching television before bed (Owens et al., 1999). Medical practitioners and academics often urge patients to switch off the television and any other screen-based devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Maintain regular bedtimes. Children’s physical and mental wellbeing benefit immensely from having a regular routine. Creating the optimal sleep/wake cycle demands adhering to a regular routine for going to bed and waking up every day (Blader et al., 1997). It is imperative that parents and educators evaluate the purpose of the many time demands imposed on their children, especially when these demands originate from outside sources such as school and extracurricular activities. In addition to learning how to apply high standards across a range of academic areas, it is essential that children have time for both active play and relaxation.
Use common sense. Keep in mind that children receive the highest quality sleep when they go to bed in a calm state of mind. This goal will not be achieved if you participate in too stimulating activities in the hours going up to bedtime. Consider numerous practises and rituals you may engage in during the hours before bedtime that will help you unwind and prepare for sleep.
Even if we put in a lot of effort as parents, at two in the morning we will still grab glasses of water and check beneath the bed for monsters. Nevertheless, given the strong correlation between the quantity of sleep children receive and their health, there are steps that can be taken to guarantee that the time they spend sleeping at night is utilised to recharge their life in a manner that promotes happiness and good health.