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Parents’ Sleep Affects Their Children’s Weight

Parents who sleep well — seven or more hours a night — are more likely to have children who sleep well, and parents and children who sleep well have better odds of not putting on the pounds, or worse, getting obese. Like father, like son; like mother, like daughter — or so the research tends to lead us. However, in this case it takes both parents to be good sleepers to help their children sleep well too (and lessen their chances of getting fat).

Now, let it be said that there is no scientific connection yet established between parents’ sleep and their children’s weight gain, but the simple explanation is that, when both sleep well, their metabolisms function better and thus regulate weight better.

“We viewed how long parents slept and how long children slept as part of a household routine and found that they really did go together,” Barbara Fiese, director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said about the study she conducted.

The factors examined in the study included not only sleep times (10 or more hours for children) but also mealtimes and television viewing habits. In the latter category, the study noted that best results were achieved if viewing were limited to two hours a day and if there were no televisions in the bedrooms.

Sleep, however, was the biggest factor observed in weight gain. If all factors except sleep time were observed, then obesity became an issue if sleep hours were compromised.

“Parents should make being well-rested a family value and a priority. Sleep routines in a family affect all the members of the household, not just children; we know that parents won’t get a good night’s sleep unless and until their preschool children are sleeping,” Fiese said.

Thus if you have children living with you, your sleep habits have a profound effect not just on you, your health and your daytime performance, but also on your children’s lives. If you’re having sleep problems, you should try to adopt good sleep hygiene habits, and if you still face issues, then you should seek the help of a sleep professional. Too many lives are at stake when sleep is compromised.

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