GREAT NECK, NY – A recent study showing that teenagers who slept less than six hours a night had a 20 percent greater chance of becoming obese or overweight by their early 20s reinforces the importance of sleep, a New York sleep disorders specialist says.
“If you’re awake and not sleeping, then you have more time to eat,” says Harly Greenberg, MD, medical director of the North Shore-LIJ Sleep Disorders Center, explaining the link between sleep and obesity. “But that’s not the whole story. Studies have found that people who are deprived of sleep actually eat more calories than they burn during the time that they’re awake. So it suggests that having not enough sleep affects the regulation of appetite, so that you feel more hungry and you want to eat more foods.”
Obesity can impact people’s risk of diabetes and heart disease, Dr. Greenberg says.
Now that school is starting up again, teens should try to wean themselves back into a sleep schedule suitable for school time. To do that, they should try changing sleep time by a half hour every few days, gradually adjusting to the new sleep schedule, Dr. Greenberg says.