A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that there is a correlation in teens between being heavier, and getting less sleep. Recent studies have shown a link between craving fattening food while tired. Another one proved that sleep deprivation influences the behavior of over 700 genes. In this study, the researchers tracked 1,000 students from around Philadelphia throughout their four years in high school to collect data for the study.
From the beginning to the end of the study, the body mass index, which measures height and body fat, of those adolescents that got less sleep increased more than their peers, who slept more. Jonathan Mitchell led the study, and commented on the how to help teenagers get more sleep, saying, “Educating adolescents on the benefits of sleep and informing them of sleep hygiene practices has shown to have little impact on adolescent sleep duration.” Mitchell and his colleagues estimated that an increase of 2 hours of sleep a night, from 8 to 10 hours, when the teens are 18 years old could result in a half million less overweight adolescents.
Going forward, he says, “Previous research has shown that delaying the start of the school day even by 30 minutes results in a 45-minute per day increase in sleep. Since our study shows increasing sleep by an hour or more could lead to a lower BMI, delaying the start of the school day could help reduce obesity in adolescents.”