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Lack of Deep Sleep Linked To Adolescent Obesity

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, August 06, 2008 1:24 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Sleep Apnea, Sleep Disorders, Living Well, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Obesity, Adolescent Obesity, Childhood Obesity

Children who did not get enough rapid eye movement sleep, had more obesity.  



IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ sleeping beauty/ author: Shantell 


The obesity rate in the U.S. has more than tripled among six to 11-year-olds over the past three decades.

An estimated 17 percent of U.S. adolescents are considered obese or overweight.  No one has examined the relationship between obesity and sleep until now.

A new study finds that cutting down on REM sleep (rapid eye movement) a deep restorative form of rest, is associated with being overweight among teens and children.

The study comes out of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh and is reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry.  

In the study, 335 children, ages seven to 17 were observed in a sleep clinic during three consecutive nights. Researchers looked at the total time they spent in REM, or rapid eye movement, which is often associated with dreaming.

It is measured by recording brain waves, watching the breathing rate and monitoring the electrical activity of the eye muscles.

The children who slept 22 minutes less each night tended to be overweight.  Children who slept one hour less were twice as likely to be overweight.  Add in one less hour of REM sleep, and the children were three times more likely to be overweight. 

22 percent of the normal time sleepers, defined as at between seven to nine hours per night, had the lowest rates of obesity -  22 percent.  

Generally, obesity results from taking in more calories than one expends.

The theory is that sleep loss changes the hormone levels in the body that may impact how much a person eats during the waking hours.  Also when one is tired, they are less likely to exercise.  There are an estimated 400 million obese people worldwide.

The researchers believe that doctors, schools and parents should ensure children are getting enough rest time at night.  Setting a consistent bed time is important as is creating an undisturbed environment in which to sleep.  Also children suffering from sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, need to seek treatment. #

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