We often assume that sleep is like a bank account that we can draw down now and replenish later, but researchers have discovered that even short-term sleep deficits can have serious health consequences from delayed brain development to obesity. Today in our science of sleep series, we’ll be looking at sleep impacts on metabolism & obesity.
Over the past two decades, sleep researchers have discovered a significant connection between sleep and metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes. While much of the research is on adults, there is growing evidence that children’s bodies are affected in much the same way: poor sleep negatively affects key hormones that tell us when and how much to eat and how and where to process sugar and store fat.
A 2008 Harvard study revealed that the link between sleep and obesity goes back to infancy. Researchers found, in a study of 915 children who were followed from infancy to 2 years of age, that infants who got less than 12 hours of sleep a night were at a significantly increased risk for obesity as toddlers. In a 2011 study, researchers followed the sleep patterns and blood markers for metabolic disease for over 300 children. They found that children who slept less had significantly worse measures for fat storage, cholesterol, and inflammation. Although these findings have been confirmed for adults, this study was the first to discover that children faced the same risks.
All in all, a growing body of research is showing us the myriad ways sleep is vital to health. And, we know that healthy sleep patterns begin in infancy and are established in early childhood. Scientists now recognize that the most important elements in building healthy patterns center around comforting and safe associations with sleep and a shared child-parent bedtime routine that soothingly focuses on sight, sound, touch, and smell. Cloud b products are speciﬁcally designed to aid parents in each of these areas.
This post is excerpted from our report, “Sleep is Fundamental for Children’s Health.” Download the full PDF HERE.