TUESDAY, Nov. 28, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- About one in four overweight American children have sleep trouble, new research shows. However, regular exercise can help those yawning youngsters.
The study of 100 black and white boys and girls, ages 7 to 11, found that one-fourth of overweight, inactive children tested positive for sleep-disordered breathing, including the telltale sign of snoring.
But the number of children with sleep problems was cut in half after about three months of vigorous after-school physical activity, such as basketball, tag, and jumping rope.
Even children who did not have sleep problems at the start of the study showed improved sleep scores after boosting their levels of physical activity.
"Existing data suggests about two percent of children have sleep problems, but with 37 percent of children now considered overweight, the percentage may be much higher," lead researcher Dr. Catherine L. Davis, a clinical health psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta, said in a prepared statement.
"We believe this study is a red flag to pediatricians to ask parents about their children's snoring," Davis said. "Snoring does not appear to be benign in children. Not sleeping well can affect children's behavior, their ability to function in school. We don't know yet if it will affect their development."
The study was published in the November issue of the journal Obesity.
The National Sleep Foundation has more about children and sleep.