Sleep duration and activity levels in Estonian and Swedish children and adolescents

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Oct;111(10):2615-23. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-1883-6. Epub 2011 Mar 5.


We aimed to examine the associations of sleep duration with time spent on sedentary, moderate and vigorous activities in children and adolescents. The sample consisted of 2,241 (53.5% girls) Estonian and Swedish children (9-10 years) and adolescents (15-16 years), from the European Youth Heart Study, in 1998-1999. Sleep duration was calculated by the difference between self-reported bedtime and time for getting up on a normal weekday. Sedentary time/physical activity was measured by accelerometry (valid data on 1,462 participants). Adolescents had lower odds than children, and Swedish higher odds than Estonian, of meeting the sleep recommendations (>9 h) (OR = 0.22, 95% CI 0.17-0.27; and 1.32, 1.07-1.61, respectively). Participants sleeping longer than 10 h spent more time on physical activities (all intensities) and less time on sedentary activities than those sleeping shorter durations (all P < 0.001). The associations with physical activity became non-significant after additional adjustment for age or sexual maturation (Tanner stages), whereas the associations with sedentary time became borderline significant (P = 0.09/0.03, for age and Tanner, respectively). In conclusion, these results do not suggest a link between sleep durations and activity in a relatively large sample of children and adolescents from two European countries. Consequently, the common assumption that physical activity is a mediator in the relationship between short sleep durations and obesity is not supported by our findings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Estonia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Time Factors