How Important Is A Child's Daily Routine?
All kids need to have their routines set in stone to a certain extent. Anyone who has ever been around children knows just how important it is to get them to stick to a certain daily regimen for the sake of healthy living (and sanity, some might say).
However, there are some new studies in the field of obesity research that indicate that there is a correlation between having a regular bedtime and avoiding obesity, at least for children.
This study did not measure any other indicators of health. However, people who are interested in the effects of routines and regular regimens on their youngest family members should consider the results of findings like these.
A Correlation Between Bedtimes and Obesity
There may be a correlation between children not having a set sleep routine and children becoming overweight during their teenage years.
Inconsistent bedtimes and obesity seem to be strongly correlated, according to a recent study in the International Journal of Obesity.
This was a longitudinal study that was started when the test population was only three. The kids are now about sixteen years of age.
Their habits were extensively tracked throughout the course of their childhoods. It seems that the research has demonstrated that there is a strong correlation between regular bedtimes and avoiding obesity later in life for children.
There were certainly other factors involved in the study. In previous studies on the subject, limited screen time and regular evening meals were also correlated with a lower incidence of obesity.
However, a lack of regular meal times didn't seem to be a factor in the incidence of obesity in this study. This seems to contradict previous findings, or at least suggest that there is more there that needs to be studied.
This longitudinal study involved more than ten thousand people in its test population, and it was a relatively diverse population, making it less error-prone than some other studies in its category.
It should also be known that the obese kids were in the minority. While there were kids at age eleven in the test population who were not obese at age three, six percent of the kids, in total, were obese by the age of eleven.
Obesity is less common in society than many people believe, and it is also highly genetic. The researchers did not correct for the possibility that these kids were genetically predisposed to be obese.
Given the small portion of kids that became obese, this seems like it could have been a possibility.
However, the correlation between irregular bedtimes and obesity is still something that is worthy of further analysis from the standpoint of this research question.
Reasons for the Correlation
The correlation between a lack of regular bedtime and obesity does seem to be much clearer, as far as the research has gathered.
However, it is certainly difficult to say why this is and whether this is a case of correlation not implying causation, or whether there is a causal factor in this case.
For one thing, it has been known for a while that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain. The idea that weight gain is a simple matter of consuming too many calories without burning enough in return, is inaccurate.
A person's weight is often a function of genetics. However, in so much as lifestyle matters at all, weight is also a function of hormones and hormonal changes.
People are more likely to put weight on and suffer from metabolic diseases as a result of prolonged sleep deprivation.
People are less likely to gain weight later in life if they get enough sleep. This is true for middle-aged people, and it seems to be true for children as well.
It is possible that the disruption of the body's circadian rhythm can have a lot of consequences for the body in general.
The Distinction Between Sleeping Patterns
Shift workers have a tendency to gain weight and experience a lot of different metabolic health consequences as a result.
It is possible that kids and shift workers who have a tendency to sleep at irregular times just do not get enough sleep in general. This has a tendency to have an effect on everything throughout the body.
While some people will sleep at irregular intervals and ultimately get enough sleep, children do keep to a schedule of some kind, and this is certainly the case with the shift workers.
A person who works irregular hours, such as an artist or writer, could always decide to take a day off to catch up on sleep.
Kids going to preschool and people working the night shift can't do this. It's possible that they're always going to be in a situation where they are catching up on sleep as a result.
Kids in particular need to have more sleep than adults. School offers kids the opportunity to more or less maintain an Industrial Revolution-style schedule that is similar to the ones that their parents will use.
However, kids need vastly more sleep than adults, and their schedules will not always allow that to happen. This is something worth noting about this issue.
This study also uncovered evidence that there was a correlation between a lack of emotional regulation and obesity in children.
It is possible that the true correlation in the research relates to the importance of routine and regulation for young children.
It is true that young children are creatures of habit in a way that might be hard for a lot of adults to remember. A disruption in the sleep cycle of children might be more severe than it would be for adults.
Of course, additional studies will be needed in order to determine the connection between emotional regulation and various health problems in children.
It is true that there are lots of studies related to obesity, and many of them do present contradictory findings.
This one seemed to show some findings that were not found in previous studies, which might be cause for concern. At the same time, it may also indicate a trend in the health of children that should be considered and researched even further.
It is also true that obesity is highly genetic and it is possible to be both obese and healthy. However, this study and its findings are worthy of analysis, and in our opinion, shouldn't change the perception that kids' routines affect their health.