In the new study, taking a short nap helped relieve stress and strengthen immune system in men who slept only two hours at night.Evan/ Photo Extremist/Flickr

Poor sleep can place teenage boys at higher risk of putting on unnecessary weight, a new study says.

The study published in Nutrition Journal, UK found a clear association between increased waist circumferences plus body fat and sleep deprivation in boys aged between 15 and 18 years.

Nearly 700 youngsters, both boys (386) and girls (299) participated in the study. Dr Paula Skidmore and colleagues from the University of Otago in New Zealand, measured height, weight and fat ratios of the participants. Of the total boys, 19 percent were overweight and eight percent were obese. In girls, the rates were 22 and six percent respectively.  

Sleeping habits of the participants were recorded. While 25 percent of the participants slept for less than nine hours, a significant number reported getting around 10 hours sleep.

Boys who slept for eight hours had 1.8 cm bigger waist circumference and 1.6 kg (nine percent) more body fat than those who slept for around 10 hours at night.  However, the researchers couldn't find similar results in girls.

"Our results suggest that for older teenage boys, making sure that they get adequate sleep may help to maintain a healthier a body. It seems to be that, within reason, the more (sleep) the better for boys," Skidmore, said in a news release. "It was unexpected that we did not find the same result in girls, who may actually be more aware of their diet and more in tune with a healthier lifestyle."

According to the National Sleep Foundation in the US, teens should get at least 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night. The experts say that poor sleep can increase risk of getting acne or other types of skin problems. According to organization, a sleep deprived person is more likely to consume unhealthy foods than others. Previous studies have shown that quality sleep improves children's language skills and poor sleep could lead to heart diseases, academic problems and behavioural malfunctioning.