The necessity of sleep is well known, however, two recent studies mentioned in Sleep Review: The Journal for Sleep Specialists show an interesting focus on parents and children. By narrowing the study groups to these select groups, some very interesting correlations were found between depression, childhood obesity and lack of sleep. Whether it is the first or fourth child, these studies are of interest to any expecting parents.
The first article of note is regarding sleep interventions and how it may assist in fighting childhood obesity. The comparative study highlights the differences between families who received recommendation and coaching surrounding “food, activity and breastfeeding” and some families being given “an innovative sleep program.” There was a group that also received assistance in both areas. The families who received the support around “food, activity and breastfeeding” did not show any effects of the assistance. “However, children in families who received the sleep program were much less likely to be overweight.” The professors go so far as to say “the beneficial effects of the Prevention of Obesity in Infancy sleep intervention on the children’s weight were intriguing and quite substantial.” While it’s a known variable in adulthood obesity, it is of significant interest that sleep may play such a large part in a child’s early development and weight.
Another article of note states a headline – “How to Stay Sane When Your Child Can’t Sleep.” The study focused on parents that were lacking clinical depression at the outset. There was scoring at the beginning, “and at 6 weeks and 24 weeks after the intervention.” Worries about managing a child’s sleep were a prevalent risk factor in higher levels of depression. The study notes that it was true for mothers and fathers – the more he or she worried about their child’s sleep, the more likely they were to be depressed.
Again, it is of no surprise that there is a link between lack of sleep and depression; but this study highlights that anxiety and concern (in which the variables of parental fatigue and poor sleep are claiming to have been factored out) can also play a huge part of the depression.
Both studies maintain a firm stance in the benefits of sleep interventions. By meeting with, coaching and promoting better sleeping habits, a parent’s concern with his or her child’s and his or her own well-being can be significantly reduced. Could it be as simple as getting a better night’s sleep?