By: Kristen Hegel
Being a teenager means juggling school, work and a social life. It also means not getting enough sleep. A recent study of Australian children and teens revealed that kids who go to bed early and get up early tend to be leaner. In fact, those who go to bed late and sleep in have 1.5 times the risk of obesity at a young age.
The study gathered its results from Australian children and teenagers between the ages of nine and 16. Researchers observed each child’s bed times and the time he/she woke up. They also compared each one’s weight and the activities they participated in throughout the four day study.
“The children who went to bed late and woke up late, and the children who went to bed early and woke up early got virtually the same amount of sleep in total,” Carol Maher, the study’s co-author, said. Those who went to bed and woke up early averaged 27 more minutes of exercise per day than those who went to bed late and woke up late. The late risers averaged in 48 more minutes per day of video games or television than those who went to bed early and woke up early.
“Our study suggests that the timing of sleep is even more important,” Maher said. Physical activity is associated with early risers, which is why they tend to get more exercise. Because staying up late is associated with watching television and browsing the web, the earlier the timing of your sleep, the better.
Bad sleeping patterns are linked to a wide variety of disorders and health problems such as the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure later on in life. “Scientists have realized in recent years that children who get less sleep tend to do worse on a variety of health outcomes, including the risk of being overweight and obese. Our findings show that this sleeping pattern is associated with unfavorable activity patterns and health outcomes, and that the adolescents who don’t follow this sleep pattern do better,” Maher said.
According to Maher it is normal for adolescents to stay up very late and sleep in late in the morning. Although it may be hard to resist your body’s tendency to stay up late, going to bed early is beneficial for health now and in the long-run.