Hit the lights, parents.
When we were kids, we all complained about bedtime. We kept insisting we stay up for an extra five minutes, and sometimes our parents relented (but sometimes they didn't). As much as we hated it back then, it's time to start thanking our non-relenting parents for it.
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that earlier bedtimes puts kids at a lower risk for obesity, as opposed to kids with later bedtimes.
In a report by CNN, lead researcher Sarah Anderson from Ohio State University said that "this study adds to a body of research that demonstrates that young children benefit from having a regular bedtime and bedtime routine."
Researchers followed 977 children who were part of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. From the time they were 4-and-a-half to 15 years old, the researchers took note of their bedtime, height, weight, and body mass index.
After comparing the bedtimes with the teens' health, they noted that only 10 percent of those who went to bed at 8 PM or earlier as kids were obese, and 23 percent of those who went to bed at 9 PM or later were obese. Sixteen percent of those who went to bed between 8 PM and 9 PM were obese.
The study found that "preschool-aged children with early weekday bedtimes were one-half as likely as children with late bedtimes to be obese as adolescents." And the results aren't very surprising.
"Regular bedtime routines, including an early bedtime, also are linked to fewer sleep problems such as nighttime awakenings or difficulty falling asleep," said Anderson.
However, it's not about the time that children sleep, but about the amount they sleep. Children who have a regular bedtime and go to sleep earlier are much more well-rested, thus benefiting their behavior, cognitive development and attention, as previous studies have found.
Sleeping earlier just gives them enough time to rest for the following day. In addition, early sleep means a less chance of late night snacking or viewing TV commercials that promote snacking.
Here's a sleep guideline for young children the American Academy of Sleep Medicine provided:
- Babies 4 months to 12 months should get 12 to 16 hours
- Children 1 to 2 years old should get 11 to 14 hours
- Children 3 to 5 years old should get 10 to 13 hours
- Children 6 to 12 years old should get nine to 12 hours
- Teenagers 13 to 18 years old should get eight to 10 hours
In short, having an early bedtime ensures that children get enough sleep for the next day. Being well-rested allows you to go about your day with more energy and enthusiasm, and results in a happier and healthier childhood.