A new study carried out among more than 177,000 students suggests that inadequate sleep duration is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle profile among children and adolescents.
The results show that inadequate sleep time is associated with unhealthy eating habits such as morning bypass (adjusted odds ratio of 1.30), fast food consumption (OR 1.35), and regular sweat consumption (OR 1.32). Insufficient sleep duration was also associated with increased screen time (OR 1.26) and was overweight / obese (OR 1.21).
"About 40% of study students are sleeping less than recommended," said senior author Labros Sidossis, Ph.D., senior professor and chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "Insufficient levels of sleep were associated with poor eating habits, increased screening time and obesity in both sexes."
The American Academy of Medical Combination recommends children aged 6 to 12 years to sleep nine to 12 hours on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Adolescents aged 13 to 18 years should sleep eight to 10 hours.
Population data came from a school health survey completed in Greece by 177,091 children (51% men) aged between 8 and 17 years old. Dietary habits, regular weekly and weekend sleep times, physical activity status and sedentary activities were evaluated through online questionnaires completed in school. Children who reported sleeping less than nine hours a day and teenagers sleeping less than eight hours a day are classified as inadequate sleep. Measurements of anthropometric and physical skills were taken by physical education teachers.
A higher percentage of men than women (42.3% vs. 37.3%) and children compared to adolescents (42.1% vs. 32.8%) reported insufficient sleeping time. Adolescents with insufficient sleep duration also had lower aerobic fitness and physical activity.
"The most astonishing finding was that aerobics is associated with sleeping habits," said Sidosis. "In other words, the best sleep habits have been associated with better levels of aerobic fitness. We can assume that adequate sleep leads to higher levels of energy during the day. Thus, children sleeping well may be more physically active during of the day and therefore have a higher aerobic capacity. "
The authors noted that the results support the development of interventions to help students improve sleep duration.
"Insufficient sleeping time among children is an undervalued health problem in Westernized societies," Sidosis said. "Taking into account these epidemiological findings, parents, teachers and health professionals should promote strategies that emphasize healthy sleep for school children in terms of quality and duration."
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