Newborns Who Sleep Longer, Sleep Through Night Are Less Likely to be Overweight

Investigators found that an additional hour of sleep correlated with a 26% decrease in an infant’s risk of being overweight.

Newborns who sleep longer and wake up less throughout the night are less likely to be overweight in childhood, according to the results from a study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and other collaborators.

"In this study, we found that not only shorter nighttime sleep, but more sleep awakenings, were associated with a higher likelihood of infants becoming overweight in the first six months of life." Susan Redline, MD, senior physician in the division of sleep and circadian disorders at the Brigham, said in a press release. "Parents should consult their pediatricians on the best practices to promote healthy sleep, like keeping consistent sleep schedules, providing a dark and quiet space for sleeping, and avoiding having bottles in bed."

Investigators found that 1 additional hour of sleep correlated with a 26% decrease in an infant’s risk of being overweight later in life. Additionally, infants who woke up less frequently throughout the night had a lower risk of excess weight gain. Though the the reasoning for this is unclear, the investigators speculated more sleep promotes routine feeding practices and self-regulation.

In the study, 298 newborns from Massachusetts General Hospital were monitored between 2016 and 2018. Investigators recorded their sleeping patterns and extracted 3 nights’ worth of data at the 1- and 6-month marks while parents kept diaries that recorded their child’s sleeping pattern.

Investigators measured the infant’s height, weight, and their body mass index, then classified the infant as overweight if they fell into or above the 95th percentile on the World Health Organization’s growth chart.

The limitations of the study included underrepresentation of African American individuals and families of lower socioeconomic statuses, and breastfeeding duration.

Reference

A good night’s sleep may mitigate infant obesity risks. EurekAlert. News release. October 22, 2021. Accessed on October 22, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/932292