Sleep Superheroes


Sleep SuperheroesA light supper, a good night’s sleep, and a fine morning have often made a hero of the same man who, by indigestion, a restless night, and a rainy morning, would have proved a coward.

–Lord Chesterfield

As parents, we know our children need a healthy, balanced diet to perform well in school. However, do we recognize what a vital role sleep plays in student performance? Teenagers extend their waking hours to accommodate school, work, sports and social life, cutting back on hours meant for sleep. Yet, whether they are teenagers or younger kids, even Superheroes need sleep to be at their best! Research shows that:

  • Shortened sleep times seem to cause higher levels of anxiety (Silva, et al. 2017).
  • Shortened sleep times seem to cause an increase in feelings of hunger, but a decrease in food enjoyment (Silva, et al. 2017).
  • A one-hour increase of sleep time is associated with a 14 percent decrease in the odds of being obese (Timmermans, et al., 2017).
  • Teenagers who consistently went to bed late craved more high-sugar foods at breakfast, and then continued to eat 53 percent  more food throughout the day (Asarnow, et al., 2017).
  • These same teenagers, when they altered their habits and went to bed earlier, voluntarily chose healthier foods for breakfast (Asarnow, et al., 2017).

Less anxiety, decrease in obesity, healthier food choices…there’s no question that sleep should be  an important part of your Superhero’s diet!

This article was written by Cathy Merrill, Family and Consumer Sciences, Extension Assistant Professor, USU Extension, Utah County


Asarnow, L.D., Greer, S.M., Walker, M.P., & Harvey, A.G. (2017). The impact of sleep improvementon food choices in adolescents with late bedtimes. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60¸ 570-576.  Accessed at

Silva, A.A.S.C., do Vale Cardoso Lopes, T., Teixeira, K.R., Mendes, J.A., de Souza Borba, M.E., Mota, M.C.,

Waterhouse, J., Crispim, C.A. (2017). The association between anxiety, hunger, the enjoyment of eating foods and the satiety after food intake in individuals working a night shift compared with after taking a nocturnal sleep: A prospective and observational study. Appetite, 108, 255-262. Accessed at  

Timmermans, M., Mackenbach, J.D., Charreire, H., Bardos, H., Compernolle, S., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., Oppert, J.-M., Rutter, H., McKee, M., Lakerveld, J. (2017). Preventive Medicine, 100, 25-32. Accessed at

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