Child sleep dep. leads to weight gain

Children can become overweight if they don't sleep long enough according to neurologist Hans Hamburger from the WaakSlaapCentrum in the Slotervaartziekenhuis hospital, het Parool reports.

"If you structurally sleep too little, then the metabolism is disturbed", Hamburger says. "The release of insulin doesn't work properly, and the stomach and the fatty tissue produce substances that cause hunger. Children who play games for long at night and therefore sleep less, can become fatter in primary school. There is a high chance that they never lose that."

According to Hamburger, it is an underexposed angle in the fight against obesity. Usually, eating healthy and getting more exercise are the go-to solutions. Out of a survey from the Dutch association for body clock, or circadian rhythm, research (Slaap- en Waak Onderzoek, NSWO), of which Hamburger is director, it seems that Dutch children were getting just enough sleep previously.

Up to the age of 12, children need 11 to 12 hours of sleep per night. After that, up to the age of 25, people need 9 to 10 hours.

"If children are sleep deprived, they become unmanageable. It could be possible that they get diagnosed with ADHD and are prescribed Ritalin. But that medicine has the possible side-effect that you can't sleep well at night. In this way, a child ends up in a vicious circle."

This week, which is National Sleep Week, a study was published from the NSWO which shows that half of Dutch children aren't satisfied with their own sleep. Almost one quarter are worried about sleep deprivation.