The effects of a 24/7 world, sleep deprivation and weight gain is the subject of new research from Canadian researcher JP Chaput. Chaput wrote in the medical journal Eating and Weight Disorders:
“Accumulating evidence supports the role of reduced sleep as contributing to the current obesity epidemic in children and youth.
Longitudinal studies (where the same test subjects are followed for a long-period of time) have consistently shown that short sleep duration is associated with weight gain and the development of obesity.
Recent experimental studies have reported that sleep restriction leads to weight gain.
Increased food intake appears to be the main mechanism by which insufficient sleep results in weight gain. Voluntary sleep restriction (staying up late) has been shown to increase snacking, the number of meals eaten per day, and the preference for energy-dense foods.
Although the causes of sleep loss in the pediatric population are numerous, more research looking at screen exposure before bedtime and its effects on sleep is needed given the pervasiveness of electronic media devices in today’s environment.”1
In the medical journal Current Obesity Reports researchers noted that while the prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically over the past decade, and the obvious imbalance between caloric intake and physical activity is considered a key factor responsible for the increase, there is emerging evidence suggesting that other factors namely sleep – could be causing the weight gain. In fact overall research evidence suggests that inadequate sleep is associated with obesity. 2
In another paper: Sleep duration has emerged as a crucial factor affecting body weight and feeding behavior (binge or roller coaster eating habits).3
And in a fourth new paper the evidence becomes very clear: Poor sleep quality and quantity is an increasing feature of modern societies, and along with traditional causes of obesity poor sleep can contribute to weight gain through complex interactions of high cortisol levels, increasing levels of appetite and altering hormone levels.4
Here are the recommended hours of sleep we should get throughout our lifetime, according to the National Sleep Foundation:
- Infants: up to 16 hours total, including naps
- Toddlers (1-3 yrs): 12-14 hours, including naps
- Preschool (3-5 yrs): 11-13 hours, most do not nap after age 5
- School-age (5-12 yrs): 10-11 hours
- Teens: 8.5-9.5 hours
- Adults: 7-9 hours
Factors influencing food intake have, and continue to be, a hotly contested subject. A paper published in the SAGE journal, Journal of Health Psychology (JHP), suggests that disrupted sleep could be one factor contributing to excessive food intake and thus leading to long term chronic health damage in both adults and children.
In a special issue on Food, Diets, and Dieting, the paper explored how a bad night’s sleep – something that affects millions of people worldwide – can affect eating habits and behaviors. Though diet is important to consider in the treatment for chronic health disorders associated with food intake, a closer look should be given to how sleep affects these factors. From MassGeneral Hospital for Children
Omega 3 supports better sleep
Dietary changes to add more Omega-3 into your diet has been proposed as a solution. Recently we reported on research involving Omega-3’s as important tools for health in people of all ages. You can find that research here.
Recently doctors at Oxford University found that higher levels of omega-3 DHA, are associated with better sleep. The researchers explored whether 16 weeks of daily 600mg supplements would improve the sleep of 362 children. The children who took part in the study were not selected for sleep problems, but were all struggling readers at a mainstream primary school.
This exploratory pilot study showed that the children on a course of daily supplements of omega-3 had nearly one hour (58 minutes) more sleep and seven fewer waking episodes per night compared with the children taking the corn or soybean placebo. The findings are published in the Journal of Sleep Research.
In new research doctors suggest: “Oily fish consumption is associated with better sleep quality. Even in people who ingest more than the recommended amount of fish, an increase in fish intake is associated with further improvement in the quality of sleep.” 5
1 Chaput JP.Is sleep deprivation a contributor to obesity in children? Eat Weight Disord. 2016 Mar;21(1):5-11. doi: 10.1007/s40519-015-0233-9. Epub 2015 Nov 17.
2. Vargas PA. The Link Between Inadequate Sleep and Obesity in Young Adults. Curr Obes Rep. 2016 Feb 13. [Epub ahead of print]
3. Poggiogalle E, Lubrano C, Gnessi L, et al. Reduced sleep duration affects body composition, dietary intake and quality of life in obese subjects. Eat Weight Disord. 2016 Feb 25. [Epub ahead of print]
4. Ratneswaran C, Kadhum M, Pengo MF, Steier J. Sleep, obesity and physicians’ education.
J Thorac Dis. 2016 Feb;8(2):287-8. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2015.11.03. No abstract available.
5. Del Brutto OH, Mera RM, Ha JE, Gillman J, Zambrano M, Castillo PR. Dietary fish intake and sleep quality: a population-based study. Sleep Med. 2016 Jan;17:126-8. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2015.09.021. Epub 2015 Nov 6.