Why It's So Important for Teens to Get Sleep

Everyone knows getting enough sleep is super important—but here’s why it’s even more critical for teenagers.

If your kid’s a night owl, it might show when he steps on the scale. A recent study found that teens who go to bed late on weeknights are more likely to pack on unwanted pounds than those who turn in earlier.

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed data from more than 3,300 teens and adults recorded at different intervals from 1994 to 2009. They found that every hour of sleep lost to a later bedtime was associated with a 2.1-point increase in body mass index (BMI) over a five-year period. The total number of hours slept didn’t help counteract the effect, either. So sleeping in on the weekends didn’t make up for going to bed late, according to the study published in the journal Sleep. The authors have a few theories: You’re more likely to eat junk food late at night and less likely to eat breakfast when you stay up, another habit linked to weight gain.

The National Sleep Foundation suggests teens get eight to 10 hours of sleep a night. To help him get more sleep, keep firm bedtimes and be sure that after-school activities end at least an hour before they need to wind down for bed. 

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