Lack of sleep makes children 'fat, stupid and hyperactive'

Lack of sleep makes children ‘fat, stupid and hyperactive’

A third of 16-year-olds and over a quarter of 14-year-olds in Amsterdam are not getting enough sleep, with girls suffering more than boys, a municipal teen health survey found. Lack of sleep can cause a multitude of problems, according to neuro-psychiologist Ed de Bruin. ‘Children become irritable and, further down the scale, depression can set in. It can lead to anxiety or attention deficit syndrome,’ De Bruin told the Parool. School results suffer and lack of sleep also makes children fatter. In short, ‘a chronic lack of sleep is making children fat, stupid and hyper active,’ Hans Hamburger of the Amsterdam Slaap Centrum at the Boerhaave clinic in Amsterdam is quoted as saying. The number of children visiting the clinic is on the up and Hamburger wants ‘sleep hygiene’ to be a subject taught in primary schools. Hormones ‘Teens tend to stay up later anyway because of hormonal changes. But that is not compatible with getting up early to go to school. They sleep late during the weekend but all this is creating havoc with their biological clock,’ De Bruin told the paper. Why girls suffer more than boys is unclear. Sleep problems among youngsters are nothing new, according to Hamburger but the problem is exacerbated by the use of tablets and phones. ‘Apart from brain activity which is keeping them awake the blue light from the screen stops the production of melatonin,' he said. 'The biological clock is pushed forward even further. You get children who hear the alarm clock for the fourth time and go back to sleep again. They enter into a state we call ‘social jetlag’.’ The city's health authority is now working on a programme to encourage healthy sleeping patterns in children between 2 and 12.  More >