Dr. Seuss wasn’t a physician, but his stories may be just what the doctor ordered. A study published yesterday in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that shorter sleep and/or irregular sleep patterns pose a health risk to children.
“Conclusions: Obese children were less likely to experience “catch-up” sleep on weekends, and the combination of shorter sleep duration and more-variable sleep patterns was associated with adverse metabolic outcomes. Educational campaigns, aimed at families, regarding longer and more-regular sleep may promote decreases in obesity rates and may improve metabolic dysfunction trends in school-aged children.“
However, the problem doesn’t end at metabolic dysregulation. Research has shown that inadequate sleep has a significant adverse effect on memory and learning (duh). We all need sleep to consolidate the things we (hopefully) learn each day – children are expected to learn something and be able to apply it henceforth, but are put at a significant disadvantage when they fail to achieve adequate sleep. Watch Matt Walker’s talk on sleep & memory for more information on this interesting topic.
The risk also applies to adults: resent research has suggested that optimal sleep time may not be 8-9 hours as we once believed, but rather between 6 hours and 8 hours. It’s intuitive that sleep loss is unhealthy, but so is sleeping too much (hypersomnia). Not only does inadequate sleep result in psychological consequences, it has recently been linked to increased mortality, as well as glucose tolerance and obesity.
Read the review of the study at MedPage Today for details.