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Not getting enough sleep is the worst. Insufficient sleep isn’t all just grogginess and irritability, though: chronic sleep deficiencies or even just an all-nighter or two here and there can have serious or even deadly consequences. You might think it’s ok to stay up too late once in a while given that we spend around a third of our lives asleep, but that sleep is vital for your body’s overall physical and mental health. To make things worse for night owls, a study published in the journal Sleep has found that chronic lack of sleep is linked with obesity in children and adolescents. How can anyone still justify not getting enough sleep?

The study was a meta-study, meaning it looked at other research to try and identify broader trends in separate data sets. After reviewing 42 other studies which studied the sleep health of 75,499 infants, children, and adolescents between 0 and 18 years, the researchers found that across all age groups, children who got fewer hours of sleep than those recommended by the National Sleep Foundation gained more weight overall and were 58% more likely to become overweight or obese.

Dr. Michelle Miller, Reader of Biochemical Medicine, Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School says that this study found a consistent relationship across all ages of children in the sample size, indicating that the increased risk is present in children of all ages:

The study also reinforces the concept that sleep deprivation is an important risk factor for obesity, detectable very early on in life. Being overweight can lead to cardiovascular disease and type-2-diabetes which is also on the increase in children. The findings of the study indicate that sleep may be an important potentially modifiable risk factor (or marker) of future obesity

Another recent study published by McGill University sleep scientists found that bad sleep habits often begin early in life. Should parents be more aware of the importance of proper sleep health?

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