Monday, May 9, 2011

Parenting Articles - Less Sleep – More Obesity, Smoking, Drinking

There are 70 million Americans with sleep disorders who would like nothing more than to relax at night. Now there’s more reason to keep you up late.

People who sleep fewer than six hours or more than nine hours a night are more likely to have health problems, according to the largest government study linking obesity to irregular sleep.

Health problems also include higher rates of smoking and alcohol use among those who sleep too little or too much.

The report finds that restorative value of sleep has been underappreciated in public health recommendations.

In time of stress, the body is known to hold onto fat stores. That’s why diets often result in weight gain. The lack of sleep may also create a similar stressful situation. Expect to see more emphasis on eight hours a night as a key to good health.

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics surveyed 87,000 Americans from 2004 to 2006.

Among the findings:

* Smoking rates were highest for those who got under six hours of sleep a night. 31 percent were smokers. Heavy sleepers included 26 percent who smoked. The average rate of U.S. smokers is 21 percent. Among those who slept an average of eight hours, 18 percent were smokers.

* Obesity rates for light sleepers were 33 percent, for heavy sleepers 26 percent and 22 percent for normal sleepers.

* Alcohol use among the light sleepers was the heaviest. Regular and heavy sleepers have about the same rate of alcohol use.

* Exercise rates were low for those who slept a lot, worse than regular or light sleepers. Health problems or being elderly age may account for that

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine finds an increasing number of obese youth are not getting enough sleep. Obesity rates among children and teens have doubled in the last 30 years and AASM says sleep may be as important a component in fighting fat as diet and exercise.

Infants to 11 months need 14 to 15 hours of sleep a night; toddlers 12-14 hours; preschool children 11-13 hours and adolescents 9 hours. Adults should get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

For those who have trouble falling to sleep follow these rules:

* Find a consistent bed time to go to sleep and wake up

* Keep the room completely dark free of lights from clocks or cable boxes

* Keep the room cooler

* Do not consume caffeine, colas or chocolate before bed or in the evening

* Take a break of at least an hour before bedtime from electronics

Also for children:

* Avoid videos or TV shows that are not age appropriate

* Use a half hour before bedtime for a bedtime routine and to read, interact and be close

* Do not let your child fall asleep while being held, rocked or nursed

* Avoid hunger at bedtime

Source:, FL

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