Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Study Ties Children’s Sleep Quality To Obesity Rates

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that infants and young children who regularly get insufficient sleep may face a greater risk of obesity by age 7.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children analyzed data from 1,046 children and gathered information from the children's mothers at 6 months, 3 years and 7 years. They also compiled information from questionnaires completed by the children when they were ages 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6.
The interviews with the mothers included questions about their children's sleep duration at night and during nap time.

When the children were age 7, the researchers gathered information on their height and weight, as well as their lean body mass, waist and hip circumference, total body fat and abdominal fat. The researchers then assigned sleep scores to the children based on their levels of sleep throughout the entire study period, with 0 being the highest levels of insufficient sleep and 13 being the lowest levels of insufficient sleep (no reports of insufficient sleep).
The average sleep score among the children was 10.2; more than half of children in the study did not experience much sleep curtailment over the study period. A little more than 4 percent of the children received a score of 0 to 4, 12.3 percent received a score of 5 to 7, and 14.1 percent scored 8 to 9. However, 28.8 percent received a score of 10 to 11, and 40.3 percent received a score of 12 to 13.

Researchers found an association between sleep curtailment and obesity, with sleep curtailment at all ages being associated with higher levels of measurements indicative of obesity. Kids who received the lowest sleep scores had higher total and trunk fat mass index, as well as higher waist and hip circumferences, compared with kids who received the highest sleep scores. There was also an association between lower sleep scores and socioeconomic factors, such as household income and maternal education. However, even after adjusting for these factors, researchers still found the association between sleep curtailment and obesity.

While this is hardly the first study to show an association between inadequate sleep and obesity, this study is unique in that it looked at sleep curtailment over time. Another recent study in the journal Childhood Obesity showed that one of the three most significant obesity risk factors for preschoolers is insufficient sleep (the other two are having a parent who is overweight or obese, and having parents who restrict the preschooler's eating because of weight control). The Society of Behavioral Medicine has also released a study which showed that sleep seemed to be associated with weight especially among low-income kids, with normal-weight children sleeping about a half hour more than overweight or obese children.

The study can't tell whether the missed sleep actually caused the kids to put on fat; it's possible that some factor the authors didn't account for was the real culprit. But there are several theories that might tie curtailed sleep to obesity, including the ebb and flow of hormones that control hunger.
Much of the research on mechanisms depends on findings in adults, and additional factors may be at play in kids, according to a lead author of the study. For example, a poor sleep routine at home also means that eating and meal patterns are probably also disrupted in those homes.

Dr. Jerald Simmons is active in treating pediatric sleep disorders and has long stressed the importance of proper sleep habits and patterns for kids. Childhood sleep disorders have also been linked to ADD and ADHD. For more information visit our website at

Thursday, May 15, 2014

F.D.A. Recommends Lower Dose of Lunesta Sleeping Pill

As part of the agency’s continuing effort to reduce sleep aids’ risky side effects such as drowsiness while driving, the Food and Drug Administration has announced that people prescribed the sleeping pill Lunesta should be starting with half the current recommended dose of two milligrams.

The dosage change is based, in part, on findings from a study of 91 healthy adults ages 25 to 40. The study shows, compared to an inactive pill (placebo), Lunesta 3 mg was associated with severe next-morning psychomotor and memory impairment in both men and women 7.5 hours after taking the drug. The study found that recommended doses can cause impairment to driving skills, memory, and coordination as long as 11 hours after the drug is taken. Despite these long-lasting effects, patients were often unaware they were impaired.

Taken at bedtime, the recommended starting dose of Lunesta (eszopiclone) has been decreased from 2 milligrams to 1 mg for both men and women. The 1 mg dose can be increased to 2 mg or 3 mg if needed, but the higher doses are more likely to result in next-day impairment of driving and other activities that require full alertness. Using lower doses means less drug will remain in the body in the morning hours.
Patients currently taking the 2 mg and 3 mg doses of Lunesta should contact their health care professional to ask for instructions on how to continue to take their medicine safely at a dose that is best for them.

According to IMS Health, a health care services company, about 55 million prescriptions for sleep aids were dispensed in the United States in 2013. Lunesta represents a relatively small part of that market, with about three million pills prescribed.
It was not the first time the agency has reduced the recommended dose of sleeping pills. In January 2013, the FDA said that doses of Ambien and other sleeping pills that contain zolpidem should be halved for women. The agency also told manufacturers that labels should recommend that health care providers “consider” prescribing lower doses for men.

Drowsiness is listed as a common side effect for all insomnia drugs, along with warnings that people may still feel drowsy the next day after taking one of these products. The FDA is continuing to evaluate the risk of impaired mental alertness with the entire class of sleep drugs, including over-the-counter drugs, and will update the public as new information becomes available.

Studies show that sleepiness can impair driving performance as much or more so than alcohol; the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that one out of every six (16.5%) deadly traffic accidents, and one out of eight (12.5%) crashes requiring hospitalization of car drivers or passengers is due to drowsy driving.  To learn more about the dangers of poor sleep habits and how you can get a better night's sleep, visit us at the HoustonSleepNet.

FDA News Release: May 15, 2014