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Late Nights Lead to Unhealthy Eating for Teens

Sarah Shoen

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Sarah Shoen, News Writer

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Teens who don’t sleep the recommended eight to 10 hours per night are more likely to develop unhealthy eating habits than those who do, according to a new study from Brigham Young University.

The study focused on adolescents ages 14 to 17 by examining their sleep habits through questionnaires, sleep trackers, and food diaries. Researchers found that teens who reported less than six hours of sleep per night consumed more calories in the late evening.

According to the food diaries, the teens who didn’t get the recommended sleep reported unhealthy eating after 9 p.m. They recorded eating foods and beverages high in carbohydrates, such as sugar-sweetened drinks. Among the 93 teenagers observed for this study, those who did not get the recommended amount of sleep also ate less fruits and vegetables daily.

“An adolescent who is chronically sleep-deprived on school nights could end up consuming over 6 lbs. of extra carbohydrates yearly,” researchers said.

According to the CDC, two-thirds of adolescents in the United States report getting less than the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. Insufficient sleep in teens can lead to long-term health problems, such as diabetes and obesity.

A 2018 study found that short sleep makes teens hungrier and affects their metabolism. Those findings support the new study out of Brigham Young University, linking the possible risks: Sleep loss and eating high levels of carbohydrates late at night affect teens’ metabolisms, putting them at risk for long-term health problems.

Another study found that school start times after 8:30 a.m. led middle and high schoolers to gain an extra four hours of sleep per week, on average. Those findings suggest a start time change could accommodate teens’ body clock shifts, which make them want to fall asleep and wake up later.

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About Our Editorial Team

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Sarah Shoen

News Writer

Sarah has covered news topics for digital and print publications. She has a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nevada.

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