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Parental Sleep Habits Linked to Childhood Obesity

Parental Sleep Habits Linked To Childhood Obesity

How often do you consider the sleep habits of your household? Doctors often recommend that parents encourage a healthy diet and a healthy amount of physical activity for their children, and one study suggests that sleep should also be included.

Researchers from the University of Illinois found that sleep habits of parents are closely related to their children sleep habits, playing a huge role in child obesity.

The director of the U of I’s Family Resiliency Center and Pampered Chef Endowed Chair, Barbara H. Fiese, and her team analyzed socioeconomic characteristics, learning how they may relate to protective routines and a child’s risk of being obese or overweight.  The protective routines for children included having a family mealtime routine, getting the proper amount of sleep (10 hours or more each night), not having a TV in their bedroom, and having a limited screen-time of 2 hours or less a day.

From the 337 preschool children and their parents, the team learned the only significant protective routine that had an effect on obesity and being overweight was making sure that children were getting adequate sleep.  An important find was also that the amount of hours which parents slept greatly influenced the amount of hours their children slept.

Fiese and her team followed families for a year in a previous study, finding that children were going to bed as late as 11 pm. Often the reason was that parents who worked late into the evening bonded with their children late at night, considering it special time.

As children and teenager’s brains are still developing, it’s more important ever that sleep habits along with diet and exercise be a priority in all households.  Parents tend to sleep easier when they know their children are well-rested.

Try adding in more relaxing activities before your child’s bedtime such as story time, a warm bath, cutting back on screen time, and making sure that your child gets at least 10 hours of sleep. As an added benefit, you’ll be more prepared for a great night of sleep and more refreshed in the mornings!

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