Teens who sleep less than eight hours on a weeknight are more likely to eat a high proportion of fatty foods than teens who get eight or more hours of sleep, according to a new study.
This difference was more pronouced in girls than in boys, and suggests that short sleep duration may increase the risk of obesity by causing small changes in eating habits that can accumulate to alter energy balance, researchers found in the ongoing Cleveland Children's Sleep and Health Study. Two hundred and forty adolescents between the ages of 16 and 19 participated in the study. Teens who slept less than eight hours on weeknights consumed about 2 percent more calories from fats and 3 percent fewer calories from carbohydrates than teens who slept eight hours or more, to the researchers said in a statement. Researchers also found that for each one-hour increase in sleep duration, teens' odds of snacking on a high amount of calories decreased by 21 percent, on average. The teens' sleep habits in the study were monitored by wrist actigraphy, a sensor that is useful in determining sleep patterns. Most teens slept for 7.55 hours each weeknight, and only 34 percent of them slept for eight hours or more. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends teens to get at least nine hours of sleep each night. Even though the diets of girls were found to be more affected by shorter sleep duration than those of boys, more research is needed to determine how gender can modify sleep, stress, eating behaviors and metabolism, the researchers said. The study was published in the Sept. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.