Early bedtime for toddlers cuts risk of obesity
Earlier bedtimes for toddlers leads to lower numbers of obese teenagers, a leading sleep expert claims.
Putting children to bed early, not only staves off crankiness, but it also prevents preschoolers becoming teens with unhealthy weights.
Now, the first study on the issue backs up what Irish paediatric sleep expert Lucy Wolfe of the Sleep Clinic sees on a daily basis.
The US Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, examined the relationship between toddlers' bedtime and obesity in adolescence of some 977 children of four-and-a-half years old.
Associate Professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University and author of the study from the 'Journal of Pediatrics', Sarah Anderson, found an association between earlier bedtimes for kids and healthier weight at the age of 15 emerged.
Guidelines recommend toddlers receive nine-and-a-half to 11-and-a-half hours of sleep a night.
Later bedtimes were related to increased risk of obesity.
Only 10pc of children who went to bed at 8pm or earlier were obese.
A staggering 16pc of children who went to bed between 8 and 9pm were obese, while 23pc of children who went to bed at 9pm and later were obese.
This was the same for both boys and girls.
While bedtime does not represent how much sleep children get, experts believe the earlier children go to bed, the more sleep they are likely to get.
Ms Wolfe said: "This recent study is helpful for parents to start to link up the health benefits of good sleep practices. Earlier bedtimes are protective against obesity.
"I am always promoting the importance of early and regular bedtimes, as we know that this activity lays a solid foundation of better and longer sleep duration.
"We also know there is a relationship between appetite and sleep - with lost sleep disrupting the chemicals in the body that regulate appetite and metabolism," Ms Wolfe added.
"I see first hand when the young child's sleep is improved, the knock-on effect is improved appetite as well as behaviour.
"Now we can see both together having a positive impact on our teenagers' weight.
"We also know that the loss of one hour can have a direct impact on mood and behaviour and academic performance.
"It is great to help parents become informed and to continue to prioritise their young children's sleep now in an effort to ensure that they will be at their optimum in early childhood and beyond.