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Children's sleeping patterns: how long should a child sleep for?

Children's sleeping patterns: how long should a child sleep for?
© La Redoute

Several studies have shown that children who don't get enough sleep are more at risk of being overweight. The recommended amount of sleep is 16-17 hours a day for under-3s, 12 hours a day for 3-5 year olds, 10-12 hours a day for 5-12 year olds and 8-9 hours a day for adolescents. 

Why is this? Experts have put forward several theories. What is known for sure is that sleep deprivation affects the hormones, which in turn affect weight gain.

-A short night's sleep reduces the circulation of leptin, a hormone secreted by our fat cells that tells the body it is full and is said to reduce appetite.

-Lack of sleep is also said to increase levels of ghrelin, a hormone produced by stomach mucus that increases appetite.

-A child suffering from lack of sleep will also suffer from a lack of energy and exercise less as a result. Lack of exercise is, of course, a factor in weight gain. 

So send your kids to bed early! If they have to get up at 7:30 in the morning for school, put them to bed between 8 and 9 o'clock, or at least make up for missed sleep at the weekend.


Sarah Horrocks
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