That Sugar Movement


Kids in bed early may reduce risk for later life obesity


Nigh nighs little ones!

It seems kidlets getting their snooze on prior to 8pm are far less likely to be overweight according to a recently released study.

Sleep – the earlier, the better

There is a strong relationship between less hours of sleep and weight gain.3;4 And whilst we are all created in different shapes and sizes, holding excess weight is not a great state to maintain.

Obesity can have many negative implications, contributing to systemic inflammation, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal issues, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.1;2

So, researchers from The Ohio State University College of Public Health analysed the sleep routine of 977 pre-school aged children to see if there was any link between the time they went to bed and the propensity to later life weight gain.5

They divided regular weekday bedtimes into three categories, and found:

  • ¼ of children were regularly in bed before 8:00pm
  • ½ of children were regularly in bed between 8:00pm and 9:00pm
  • ¼ of children were regularly in bed after 9:00pm.

Researchers found 23% of those going to bed later as children were obese as teens.

This is compared to 10% of early sleepers, and 16% in the 8:00-9:00pm range.

This correlation supports existing evidence from prospective studies linking later bedtimes as adolescents and older children with increased risk for obesity.6-8

What is fascinating is how behaviours so early on in life can have a long-term impact, and perhaps could be due to the establishment of a pattern of sleep behaviour taken from childhood into adolescence and adulthood.

Keeping regular

Keeping a consistent bedtime isn’t always possible, and work and life demands on families can impede efforts. But preparing for snooze-town at a similar time each night will set the body’s naturally occurring circadian rhythms to prepare for a good night’s rest.

This can contribute to better sleep quality,9 and is as important for us oldies as it is for children.

The importance of sleep is often underrated. Yet, along with diet and stress, is a major contributing factor to happiness and health.

Get your sleep hours

Lack of sleep in children can lead to social, cognitive and emotional problems. And we can agree that lack of sleep in adults has a similar impact.10-12 I certainly get my cranky on the day after an all-night Game of Thrones marathon!

More hours sleep is correlated with better health outcomes; though too much can also be detrimental! Generally, 7-9 hours of good quality sleep for the average adult is optimal, with 10 -13 hours for children 3-12 years (the younger they are, the more sleep they need).13

If you are having trouble getting your child to sleep, or even sleeping yourself, please consult with your healthcare practitioner who may refer you to a sleep specialist. A little investment in getting the sleep habit right may have massive benefits to health in the long-run – for you and your kids.

By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med.)



  1. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention 2015, ‘The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity’, viewed 3 August 2016, <>
  2. World Health Organisation 2016, ‘Why does childhood overweight and obesity matter?’, viewed 3 August 2016, <>
  3. Fatima, Y Doi, SA & Mamun, AA 2015, ‘Longitudinal impact of sleep on overweight and obesity in children and adolescents: a systematic review and bias-adjusted meta-analysis’, Obesity Reviews, 16, pp. 137–149.
  4. Patel, SR & Hu, FB 2008, ‘Short sleep duration and weight gain: a systematic review’, Obesity, vol. 16, pp. 643–653.
  5. Anderson, SE, Andridge, R, & Whitaker, RC 2016, ‘Bedtime in Preschool-Aged Children and Risk for Adolescent Obesity’, The Journal Of Pediatrics, [Epub ahead of print].
  6. Asarnow, LD McGlinchey, E & Harvey, AG 2014, ‘Evidence for a possible link between bedtime and change in body mass index’, Sleep, 38, pp. 1523–1527.
  7. Landhuis, CE Poulton, R Welch, D & Hancox, RJ 2008, ‘Childhood sleep time and long-term risk for obesity: a 32-year prospective birth cohort study’, Pediatrics, vol. 122, pp. 955–960.
  8. Magee, CA Caputi, P & Iverson, DC 2013, ‘The longitudinal relationship between sleep duration and body mass index in children: a growth mixture modeling approach’,  Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 34, pp. 165–173.
  9. Mindell, JA Li, AM Sadeh, A Kwon, R & Goh, DY 2015, ‘Bedtime routines for young children: a dose-dependent association with sleep outcomes’, Sleep, vol. 38, pp. 717–722.
  10. Kelly, Y Kelly, J & Sacker, A 2013, ‘Changes in bedtime schedules and behavioral difficulties in 7 year old children’, Pediatrics, vol. 132, pp. 1184–e1193
  11. Kobayashi, K Yorifuji, T Yamakawa, M Oka, M Inoue, S Yoshinaga, H. et al. 2015, ‘Poor toddler-age sleep schedules predict school-age behavioral disorders in a longitudinal survey’, Brain & Development, 37, pp. 572–578.
  12. Scullin, MK, & Bliwise, DL 2015, ‘Sleep, cognition, and normal aging: integrating a half century of multidisciplinary research’, Perspectives On Psychological Science: A Journal Of The Association For Psychological Science, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 97-137.
  13. Morrissey, B, Malakellis, M, Whelan, J, Millar, L, Swinburn, B, Allender, S, & Strugnell, C 2016, ‘Sleep duration and risk of obesity among a sample of Victorian school children’, BMC Public Health, vol. 16, no. 1, p. 245.
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