Weekend 'Catch-Up' Sleep May Help Kids' Weight
Study: Children Who Don't Get Enough Sleep Have Higher Risk of Obesity, but Sleeping in on the Weekends May Help
Expert: Catching Up Easier for Older Kids
But Gozal says the evidence supporting the association continues to mount.
“There is very little respect for sleep in our society, and we think this needs to change,” he says.
Pediatrician and sleep researcher Julie Lumeng, MD, of the University of Michigan, agrees that the research on sleep and childhood obesity supports, but does not prove, a link between the two.
Lumeng’s own research, published in 2007, found that sixth graders who averaged less than 8 1/2 hours of sleep each night were almost twice as likely to be obese as sixth-graders who slept more than 9 1/2 hours.
She says for younger children, like the ones in the study, having a regular bedtime and a regular nightly routine may be particularly important.
She says although older children and teens may be able to catch up on lost sleep on weekends, younger children usually cannot do this.
“Teens can easily sleep until noon or even 1 if they have been up late the night before, but young children’s brains are not wired to allow them to do this,” she says. “If a 7-year-old stays up until midnight on a Saturday night, she is probably still going to wake up early the next day.”