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August 2012 – SLEEP EARLY

FACT:  Short sleep duration and circadian rhythm disruption are linked with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.  In a 39-day study designed to mimic shift work for night workers, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that prolonged inadequate sleep at irregular times lowers the resting metabolic rate and leads to defects in pancreatic insulin secretion and impaired glucose regulation.

HOPE:  Want to decrease your risk for obesity and diabetes?  Start by getting adequate sleep at regular times each day.  Feeling rested will also help you make more positive food and exercise choices.

FACT:  A recent Australian study suggests that the timing of sleep, not just the amount of sleep, is important in children and teens aged 9 to 16.  Those who went to bed early and got up early were thinner and fitter than kids who slept late, even when both groups got the same amount of sleep.  The researchers found that the night owls who slept in later in the morning were 1.5 times more likely to become obese, twice as likely to be sedentary, and nearly three times as likely to spend an excessive amount of time watching TV, using the computer, or playing video games.

HOPE:  Helping your child to understand and buy-in to the benefits of "early to bed, early to rise" can lower their risks for obesity and set them on a path to lifelong health.

FACT:  German researchers found that short-term sleep deprivation increased how hungry participants felt and also raised the amount of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin detected in their blood. Ghrelin, which is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, stimulates appetite. In the study, the shorter the amount of sleep a person had experienced the hungrier they were - which set the stage for overeating. In addition, researchers found that staying awake for one complete night reduced the amount of energy used by the body when resting. Eating more while burning less calories is a recipe for weight gain.

HOPE:  Make sleep a part of your weight management strategy. More sleep may help you control your weight by keeping ghrelin levels at normal levels and helping you burn more calories at rest.

FACT:  Teens whose parents insist on 10 p.m. or sooner for lights out were 25 percent less likely to be depressed and 20 percent less likely to have suicidal thoughts, compared with kids who go to bed at midnight or later.  The data on more than 15,000 adolescents in grades 7-12 who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health also found that adolescents who reported sleeping five or fewer hours per night were 71% more likely to report depression, and 48% more likely to have thoughts of committing suicide, compared to young people reporting eight hours of sleep nightly.

HOPE:  Consider bedtime limits for your teenage child similar to setting limits on other activities that adversely affect health, such as cigarette smoking. Insisting on earlier bedtimes is one key to having happy, healthy and less depressed children.

  • Buxton, O. M., Cain, S. W., O’Connor, S. P., Porter, J. H., Duffy, J. F., Wang, W., et. al. (2012). Adverse metabolic consequences in humans of prolonged sleep restriction combined with circadian disruption. Science Translational Medicine, 4(129).
  • Olds, T. S., Maher, C. A. & Matricciani, L. (2011). Sleep duration or bedtime? Exploring the relationship between sleep habits and weight status and activity patterns. Sleep 34(10), 1299-1307.
  • Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (2012, July 10). Should we sleep more to lose weight? ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/07/120710093929.htm.
  • Gangwisch, J. E., Babiss, L. A., Malaspina, D., Turner, J. B., Zammit, G. K. & Posner, K. (2010).  Earlier parental set bedtimes as a protective factor against depression and suicidal ideation.  Sleep 33(1), 97-106.

The material in this website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any illness, metabolic disorder, disease or health problem. Always consult your physician or health care provider before beginning any nutrition or exercise program. Use of the programs, advice, and information contained in this website is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.

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