The American Academy of Pediatrics has reported that about 73% of high school-aged children get less than the amount of sleep they need. This report is crucial as teenagers, who are going through many physical changes, need their sleep to grow.
In addition, past studies have shown that poor sleep can have detrimental effects on teenagers. These include behavioral issues, poor school performance, and mental health issues.
Children who don’t get enough sleep eat poorly
Recently, a study from Brigham Young University found another negative effect that lack of sleep could have on teenagers. The study, which occurred at the Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital Medical Center, found that teenagers who don’t get enough sleep have poor dietary habits. Because of this, they have an increased likelihood of gaining weight and developing cardiometabolic diseases.
According to the lead author and clinical and developmental professor, Dr. Kara Duraccio, teenagers who sleep less are more likely to consume high amounts of sugary beverages, added sugars, and carbs.
How researchers conducted the study
The researchers gathered 93 teenagers for their study. They then analyzed their eating and sleeping patterns in two situations. In the first condition, they subjugated the teens to poor sleep by letting them sleep for six and a half hours for a week. This was followed by a healthy sleep period (none and a half hours) for another week.
Under both conditions, the researchers analyzed the food types, macronutrient contents, calorie intake, and glycemic load of the food they ate.
The findings showed that children who slept less were more likely to eat high amounts of carbs and sugars. They were also likely to eat vegetables and fruits during the day.
Duraccio points out that both groups of teenagers ate the exact amounts of food. However, those who got less sleep ate more unhealthy foods. The researchers theorized that the teenagers who didn’t get enough sleep were trying to get a quick energy burst that would keep them awake for long hence going for foods rich in sugar and carbs.
Child obesity is a huge issue. As a result, many experts are trying to find ways to interpret. However, very few have considered sleep to reduce the rates of obesity.