KING 5's Joyce Taylor talked to Dr. Emily Cooper from the Diabesity Research Foundation about some new research regarding the correlation betweeen sleep and health.

JOYCE: You've told us how important sleep is for our health and metabolism, we certainly know about this around here. And you've seen some new research.

DR. COOPER: A recent study reported that chronic sleep restriction caused problems with insulin sensitivity and other metabolic hormones, but the good news is, the study also showed that with just three nights of "catch-up sleep," insulin sensitivity, metabolic hormones and even testosterone improved.  So that extra sleep on weekends could be critical.

JOYCE: This is good news, which everyone on the morning show can appreciate.  And you mentioned sleep and Ghrelin?

DR. COOPER: Another study showed Ghrelin levels were increased by insufficient sleep. When Ghrelin levels are elevated it makes your brain inaccurately perceive starvation causing your metabolism to crash and appetite to increase.  I have seen this happen with night shift workers and even college students who suddenly find themselves burning the midnight oil.  This is a good reminder that sleep should be a priority, especially during the frantic holiday season.

JOYCE: You also mentioned the risks of sleep deprivation in kids. It is amazing how hard it is for kids to get enough sleep these days. 

DR. COOPER: Kid's schedules are filled with school, sports and activities, often leaving them with no time to decompress, this can lead to sleep deficits.  A new study followed 90 children with obesity between 7 and 16 years of age.  Children who had the shortest sleep duration had the highest incidence of severe central obesity, which is the deep visceral fat detrimental to health – They also showed markers of increased cardiovascular risk.  It's critical for health to develop good sleep hygiene early. And if you notice your child is not getting proper sleep, it may be a good idea to eliminate something from their schedule.

JOYCE: What are the things we should be doing for ourselves and to help our kids get adequate sleep?

DR. COOPER: Here are some tips to help ensure that we all get the rest we need:

In the evening, turn down the lights, limit screen time and do something enjoyable like reading or a warm bath.  Make sure your sleep environment is peaceful and relaxing. Make sure the bedroom is dark and at a comfortable temperature.  Eat frequently throughout the day including all food groups.  This will prevent waking in the middle of the night hungry.  Make sure there is time for relaxation each day.  When schedules are packed up until bedtime falling asleep is often difficult.

Related links:

Elevated ghrelin predicts food intake during experimental sleep restriction

Short Sleep Duration Is Related to Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Obese Children

Metabolic and hormonal effects of 'catch-up' sleep in men with chronic, repetitive, lifestyle-driven sleep restriction