Teen Sleep Times Linked to Being Overweight or Obese

By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern

We’ve all heard that the way to prevent being overweight and potentially obese is to maintain good and healthy lifestyle habits, such as exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet. These habits are especially important during the teen years as teens are still developing during this stage. One lifestyle habit that isn’t as often talked about is keeping good and consistent sleep times. Freshman 15

According to a study done on the sleep times of adolescents, researchers found that most teens are not getting the optimal amount of 8 hours of sleep each night and that those teens who got the optimal amount of sleep, which is 8 hours, were less likely to be overweight or obese compared to those who got less than 8 hours of sleep. The study also noted that age plays a role as well. Those who got less than 7 hours of sleep at age 12 were 21 percent more likely to be overweight or obese than those who got 8 hours of sleep. Similarly, for the teens that were 14 years of age, those who got less than 7 hours were 72 percent more likely to be overweight or obese compared to those who slept 8 hours.

Dr. Jesus Martinez-Gomez suggested that this loss of sleep in teens could be attributed to the fact that as teens age, their bodies produce melatonin later than they do when they are younger. He also noted that it is during the teen years that school schedules and social lives become busier.

So, besides needing to exercise regularly and eat balanced meals, teens should also be encouraged to ensure that they are getting proper rest each night, not only so that they are refreshed the next day, but also because it could save them from some negative health impacts in the long run.

For more articles on sleep, check out this collection of sleep related articles from the Fill Your Plate blog!

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