Children Face A Higher Risk Of Obesity When They Don’t Get Enough Sleep

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New research reinforces the theory that there may be a connection between sleep deprivation and obesity in kids and teens.

For a paper recently published in the academic journal Sleep, researchers looked at data collected from 42 different studies involving 75,499 participants aged 0 to 18.

The researchers sorted the participants into two categories:

  • Short sleepers, who got less than the recommended amount of nightly sleep for their age
  • Regular sleepers, who got the recommended amount of nightly sleep for their age

The researchers found that kids in the short sleeping group gained more weight (regardless of their age) and were 58% more likely to become overweight or obese than their peers in the regular sleeper group.


“The results showed a consistent relationship across all ages indicating that the increased risk is present in both younger and older children,” researcher Dr. Michelle Miller told “The study also reinforces the concept that sleep deprivation is an important risk factor for obesity, detectable very early on in life.”

More Research Is Needed

It’s not clear exactly why sleep deprivation and obesity are linked, but experts have a few theories.

“Sleep-deprived people may be too tired to exercise, decreasing the “calories burned” side of the weight-change equation,” the Harvard Sleep website explains. “Or people who don’t get enough sleep may take in more calories than those who do, simply because they are awake longer and have more opportunities to eat; lack of sleep also disrupts the balance of key hormones that control appetite, so sleep-deprived people may be hungrier than those who get enough rest each night.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep for different age groups is as follows:

  • Newborns (aged 0-3 months) should sleep 14 to 17 hours each day.
  • Infants (aged 4-11 months) should sleep 12 to 15 hours.
  • Toddlers (aged 1-2 years) should sleep 11 to 14 hours.
  • Preschoolers (aged 3-5) should sleep 10 to 13 hours.
  • School-age children (aged 6-13) should sleep 9 to 11 hours.
  • Teenagers (aged 14-17) should sleep 8 to 10 hours nightly.

[Editor’s Note: The content provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. Any information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We encourage people to consult with the appropriate health expert if they have concerns.]

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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