Children and infants under the age of five who get less than 10 hours of sleep are more likely to be overweight five years later. That’s the finding of a new study published this week in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
The study analyzed data from a nationwide survey in 1997 and 2002. What was found was that babies and children up to age 4 who did not sleep enough at night were 80 percent more likely to be obese five years later compared to others who had long sleep. No link to obesity was seen when older children (age 5 to 13) got less than 10 hours of sleep.
The study says that napping is not a substitute for sleeping at night because sleeping during the day and night serve different functions. Nighttime sleep involves “complex biological, psychological and restorative functions”, while naps may help reduce stress and help a child be more alert for learning.