Want to lower the risk of your child becoming an obese teenager and a diabetic adult? Well, then you must tuck in your child into bed before 8PM. And do this every single day.
This is no talking in the air. Health experts done detailed studies on the issue and vouch for it. Preschool-aged children who go to bed after 9pm are at double the risk of being obese as teenagers, as their peers who go to sleep before 8pm, they say.
The latest study on the issue has been done by The Ohio State University. Dr Sarah Anderson, Associate Professor of Epidemology at the university, who is also the lead author of the study has categorically stated that findings of the study reinforce the importance of establishing a bedtime routine.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, used data from 977 children, who were part of the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. It followed healthy babies born at 10 US sites in 1991.
Excess weight in children is a major health concern for parents these days, not just in US but closer home in India as well. Obesity can set children up for a lifelong struggle with weight and health complications, including heart disease and diabetes.
“An early bedtime is something concrete that families can do to lower their child’s risk and it’s also likely to have positive benefits on behavior and on social, emotional and cognitive development,” says Dr Anderson.
“Putting a child to bed early doesn’t guarantee he or she will fall immediately into a deep sleep, but establishing a consistent bedtime routine makes it more likely that children will get the amount of sleep they need to be at their best,” she adds.
Recommending early bedtimes for young children may help to prevent obesity, and pediatricians are in a position to talk with parents about the importance of sleep for children’s overall health.
The study, however, doesn’t answer questions about how sleep time intertwines with a variety of other factors that can contribute to weight gain in childhood, including physical activity and nutrition, Dr Anderson said, and that remains an active area of research.