"Early to bed and early to rise" could be the key to staying lean
and more active than night-owls during one's youth, even though
both groups may be getting the same amount of sleep, new research
The study recorded the bed times and wake times of 2,200
participants, aged nine to 16 years, and compared their weight and
use of free time over four days.
Children who went to bed late and got up late were 1.5 times more
likely to become obese than those who went to bed early and got up
early, reports the journal SLEEP.
Late-night owls were almost twice as likely to be physically
inactive and 2.9 times more likely to be glued to TV and computer
screens or play video games for more hours than recommended
"The children who went to bed late and woke up late, and the
children who went to bed early and woke up early got virtually the
same amount of sleep in total," said co-author Carol Maher,
postdoctoral fellow with the University of South Australia.
"Scientists have realized in recent years that children who get
less sleep tend to do worse on a variety of health outcomes,
including the risk of being overweight and obese," said Maher,
according to a South Australia statement.
Mornings are more conducive to physical activity for young people
than nights, which offer prime-time TV programming and social
networking opportunities, Maher said.
At a time when research is showing that teenagers have a natural
tendency to stay up late and wake up late, the results of this
study could stand as a warning, Maher said.