Washington: Sleeping less than 8 hours a night may be lead to weight gain in teens, a new study led by an Indian-origin researcher has found.
Furthermore, obesity is linked to short sleep duration in teenage boys, with the fewest hours slept linked to the highest BMI levels, the report said.
“Sleep is food for the brain. When teens do not get enough sleep, they fall asleep in class, struggle to concentrate, look and feel stressed, get sick more often, and do not meet their obligations due to tiredness,” said study author Lata Casturi, MA, RPSGT, Baylor College of Medicine Sleep Center in Houston, Texas.
“Teens who sleep less than 8 hours may also consume more calories than those who sleep more than 8 hours. Therefore, they have a higher risk for obesity and associated health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.”
Ms. Casturi and colleagues, including coauthor Anita Rao, surveyed 255 teens (108 boys and 147 girls) in high school to obtain self-reported measures of height and weight (used for BMI calculation) and both weekday and weekend quantity of sleep.
Among boys, results indicated the average sleep time on weekdays was 6 hours and 32 minutes, and on weekends, the average was 9 hours and 10 minutes.
Among girls, the average weekday sleep time was 6 hours and 30 minutes, and the average weekend sleep duration was 9 hours and 22 minutes.
Teenage boys who slept 7 hours or less on weekdays had an average BMI that was 3.8 percent higher than those who slept more than 7 hours.
Likewise, teenage girls who slept 7 hours or less had a BMI that was 4.7 percent higher than girls who got more than 7 hours of sleep per weekday.
The researchers believe the sex-related difference in sleep and weight gain may be due to the differences in body composition during puberty. “Boys and girls experience differential growth rates and hormone secretion during puberty. The sleep factors that impact metabolism may increase weight gain differently in the two sexes,” Ms. Casturi said.
The study was presented at CHEST 2011, the 77th annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).