More sleep makes for healthier teens

More sleep makes for healthier teens

New research shows if teens get more sleep, they may decrease their risk for being overweight.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania surveyed more than 1,400 ninth graders in the suburbs of Philadelphia and interviewed them every six months until grade 12. The teens self-reported height and weight to calculate their body mass indices. The teens also self-reported hours of sleep.

Results, published April 8 in the online edition of the journal , showed that for each hour more a child slept on a regular basis, their body mass index (BMI) levels fell into a healthier range. Fewer hours of sleep were associated with higher increases in BMI for the teens, ages 14 to 18.

Researchers recognize they did not track diet, but their observations suggest that increasing sleep duration to 10 hours could curb obesity among teens. “What we found in following these adolescents is that each additional hour of sleep was associated with a reduced BMI for all participants, but the reduction was greater for those with higher BMIs,” Mitchell says in an online statement.

Dr. Maria Janecek, pediatrician on staff at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., recommends the following tips for parents to encourage more sleep:

  • Set a routine bed time.
  • Keep media, including iPads, video games, phones, computers to a minimum. Power down at least an hour before bed.
  • Avoid having televisions in the bedrooms.
  • Avoid caffeine at least 6 to 8 hours before bed. That includes pop, chocolate, energy drinks and coffee drinks.

“Setting a routine for teens can be very valuable to their overall health,” Janecek says. “And getting a full night’s sleep is at the top of the list.”

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.