Your Daughter Can’t Sleep Because She’s Stressing About Being Skinny

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Young girls are clearly be confronted with countless media images encouraging them to lose weight and prioritize their looks — but now it turns out some girls may be losing sleep because of such pressures.

A study in Texas asked middle school girls (averaging at 12 years of age) to quantify how much pressure they were receiving to be thin and from what sources (media, friends, family, etc.) Researchers discovered that the amount of a pressure a girl felt to be thin predicted sleep duration.

What’s telling about these findings is that up until now, societal pressures had yet to measured when it comes to children’s sleep — a topic that gets covered often in the media. Our children are always not sleeping because of social media or the internet or smartphones or homework.

The study’s principal investigator, Katherine Marczyk, a doctoral student in clinical health psychology and behavioral medicine at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas remarked that these studies are an important catalyst:

There is a significant amount of research in other areas regarding pressure on adolescent females to minimize body weight, but this pressure as it relates to sleep health is a less-explored topic and its consequences are mostly unknown…These results are important as this discovery could be one of the first steps in this research.

Considering how our culture is re-discovering the importance of healthy sleep (effecting everything from stress management to happiness to depression), this research carries significant relevance for parents and kids alike. Little sleep is linked closely to anxiety and depression, which does place girls in close proximity to eating disorders. These “first steps” could ultimately lead to a whole different approach to understanding children’s sleep.

(photo: ella1977/ Shutterstock)