Insufficient Sleep Increases Health Risk in Children

Short sleep duration and variable sleep patterns associated with adverse metabolic outcomes

MONDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Shorter sleep duration and more variable sleep patterns are associated with adverse metabolic outcomes, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in Pediatrics.

Karen Spruyt, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago, and colleagues reviewed the sleep patterns of 308 community-recruited children aged 4 to 10. The children were assessed with wrist actigraphs for one week, and they had a body mass index assessment. A subsample was measured for fasting morning glucose levels, insulin, lipids, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein.

The researchers found that the children slept an average of eight hours a night, regardless of their weight categorization. A nonlinear trend was identified between sleep and weight. Sleep duration was shorter for obese children and showed more variation on weekends compared to weekdays. Overweight children tended to have a mixed sleep pattern, in which they slept longer as the week progressed. Short sleep duration or high variance in sleep duration was more likely associated with altered plasma levels of insulin, low-density lipoprotein, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. Short sleep duration, especially in the presence of irregular sleep schedules, was associated with the greatest health risk.

"Public health campaigns aiming to educate families regarding the benefits of longer and more-regular sleep may lead to decreased obesity and metabolic dysfunction trends for our children," the authors write.

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