Teens: Sleep in, Gain Weight?
In Study, Teens Who Went to Bed Late and Woke Late Were More Likely to Gain Weight
Interests May Drive Sleep Timing
It isn’t clear from the study if going to bed and waking up earlier caused the children to exercise more, eat less, and generally have healthier lifestyles.
It may be that kids who are more physically active went to sleep earlier each day because they were sleepier and that they got up earlier to meet athletic schedules, Maher says.
Likewise, more sedentary children and teens may be less tired at night and those who prefer TV and video games to sports may stay up to watch favorite shows or engage in more screen time.
“Our findings are really food for thought,” she says. “We’ve tended to focus only on sleep duration. This study suggests that the timing of sleep may be just as important or even more important.”
Pediatric sleep specialist William Kohler, MD, medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute in Tampa, says the new research warrants further investigation into the importance of sleep timing.
He says that like adults, natural sleep cycles in older children and teens may be more variable than has been realized.
“While most adolescents may have a natural tendency to go to bed and wake up later, there may be a subset whose natural clock is earlier,” he says. “But this doesn’t change the message that sleep quantity as well as sleep quality are both important for good health.”