Teenagers And Sleep Disorder Risk

The importance of sleep for kids and teenagers is very well known. As one of the recent studies have shown, today’s teenagers should have at least 7 hours of sleep every night (read more about this study about teenagers and sleep needs of theirs). At the same time, a great number of parents and moms report about their teenage sons or daughters hardly getting the required 7-hour sleep since they spend pretty much of time at their PCs or watching TV shows till very late time, etc. Most of today’s teenagers go to sleep way after midnight, cutting their sleep hours down to 5-6 hours a night. Can this tendency be dangerous and can the links between the health of teenagers and sleep irregularities cause serious risk to their health? Teenagers And SleepA group of scientists at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, carried out a study in order to find a possible answer to this question. Their findings were recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The scientists analyzed the information on about 4,100 teenager, from secondary school  students to freshmen. It turned out that, first of all, there are very strong links between a lack of sleep or poor sleep and teenagers cardiovascular health. As the analysis has shown, every one of three teenagers who had reported about the problems like poor night’s sleep, inability to fall asleep, staying awake for a long time at night, and others, had high cholesterol levels and increased body mass. In addition, most of such participants were diagnosed with hypertension (or elevated blood pressure), the condition closely associated with high risks of serious cardiovascular problems like heart attack, stroke, and so on. At that, the mentioned risk increases substantially with age.

The experts tried to find proper explanations for the discovered issue of poor cardiovascular health of teenagers and sleep problems. It seems that poor sleep is closely linked to a lack of exercise, decreased appetite in the daytime and a tendency to have a snack at night causing poor nutrition and increased calorie consumption. All of the mentioned factors affect body mass, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, bringing to increased risks of cardiovascular diseases in today’s teenagers. Dr. Brian C. McCrindle, a senior researcher at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the study leaders, underlines the importance of the links found by his colleagues: ‘When people think about cardiovascular risk, sleep doesn’t usually come up. These findings give more evidence that sleep is one of the things people should think about.’ He said that modern teenagers now have a great excuse to stay in bed for more than 7 hours every night.

Overall, the authors of the study aimed on finding the relationships between a chronic lack of sleep and teenagers’ cardiovascular health published the following information. Among all the participants of the study, 48 per cent of the teenagers had a problem of extra weight, accompanied with high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. At that, among those teenagers who reported having a proper sleep every night and having a very good rest, only as much as 35 per cent had problems like either high body mass, or high cholesterol levels, or hypertension. At that, as the study has shown, more than a half of the teenagers reported about suffering from a chronic lack of sleep, restlessness, insomnia, inability to fall asleep, and other sleep disturbances. You can find more information and learn about the study details in this report.


Changing Sleep Patterns Are Linked To Increased Risk of Weight Gain

Most of us like sleeping much longer in the weekends compared to week days. Friday night we usually stay longer, watch night TV shows, chat with our friends online, go to night clubs, or have any other kind of fun. We go to sleep late, and then wake up late in the morning, changing our sleep patterns and daily activity routines. Most of us truly enjoy these long sleeps in the weekends, but scientists warn us about possible negative effects of those. In particular, as one of the recent study has found out, those of us who like sleeping longer and waking up late in the weekends are at much higher risk of weight gain. Sleep PatternsSpecialists at the Institute of Medical Psychology at the University of Munich have reported about their findings saying that changing sleep patterns is linked to higher risks of obesity and all negative factors associated with this health condition.

According to Prof. Till Roenneberg, a research group leader and the author of the report published this spring in the journal Current Biology, every extra hour spent in bed in the weekend is linked to 33 per cent increase in risk of weight gain. Waking up an hour or two later in the weekend and changing our sleep patterns have the same effects on us in the same way as changing time zone when flying to another country. “The behavior looks like if most people on a Friday evening fly from Paris to New York or Los Angeles to Tokyo and on Monday they fly back. Since this looks like almost a travel jet lag situation, we called it social jet lag,” Roenneberg said. However, the effects of changing sleep patterns as a result of longer sleep in the weekends are different, since the sun goes on coming up and going down in the same time.

At the same time, the effects of the described phenomena can possibly be more harmful since social jet lag is something that takes place regularly, on a long term basis. As a result of these sleep pattern disruption, biological clock of the people have extra load and go through more frequent reset procedures. Similar effects were reported earlier related to shift workers who also suffer from chronically disrupted sleep patters and are exposed to higher risks of obesity and risks of diabetes. The links between good sleep and weight loss have been studied by many researchers and scientists, and there is plenty of scientific evidence to the fact that having a regular good sleep is one of the most important factors for effective weight loss and weight management. The current study, nevertheless, is one of the first researching the reverse effects and proving that sleep irregularities and distorted sleep patterns are linked to increases risk of weight gain.

Prof. Till Roenneberg reported that the mentioned conclusions were made after analyzing information on a large number of people, over 65 thousands. Research group found out that the more social leg we experience, the more load to our body clock we have, the more chances we have to gain weight and suffer from obesity. Also, weight gain due to sleep pattern changes is linked to drop in metabolism which usually accompanies prolonged sleep. “If our sleep is not up to us, we’re much less likely to get enough to stay healthy. And whatever it is limiting our sleep may also limit time for exercise or preparing healthy meals,” Orfeu Buxton, an assistant professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, commented on the findings of her colleagues. Find more information about the research and the findings of German scientists in this publication.

Too Little Sleep Is Linked To Increased Risks Of Diabetes And Obesity

Risks of DiabetesThe dangers of having too little sleep are known, and such a common problem as having a chronic lack of sleep can sometimes lead to very serious effects, including chronic fatigue syndrome, psychological and mental disorders, increased risks of some serious cardiovascular diseases, and so on. Some of us usually have too little sleep due to various sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, or others. But some people, i.e. those who work shifts, are getting too little sleep due to specifics of their work. According to the findings of a new study, shift workers are at increased risks of diabetes and weight gain, along with those of us who suffer from chronic sleep disorders.

A group of scientists from Harvard Medical School and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, carried out a study involving 21 volunteers who worked shifts. Their daily habits, including eating habits and sleep patterns were thoroughly monitored for an extended period of time. It turned out that drastic changes to normal sleep routine resulted in minor disorders and imbalances in their body. The most important and alarming tendency detected was the developing inability of body to control sugar levels and increasing risks of diabetes, followed by rising the risks of obesity and other related conditions. It was reported that some shift workers had developed the signs of pre-diabetes condition very fast, just within a few weeks of such kind of routine.

Disrupted sleep and its effects were studied by the experts in controlled environment, and all other factors were taken into account. After initial period of the study when the participants were allowed sleeping 10 hours a night, the following three weeks they were allowed to sleep 6.5 hours every 28 hours creating the effects similar to shift working. The scientists found out that this routine caused a considerable reduction in insulin production, creating a great environment for diabetes development. In addition to increased risks of diabetes, the scientists reported that three of four participants started showing the signs of slowed down metabolism (up to 8 per cent) and increasing body mass, leading to increased risks of obesity as well.

“We think these results support the findings from studies showing that, in people with a pre-diabetic condition, shift workers who stay awake at night are much more likely to progress to full-on diabetes than day workers,” said Dr Orfeu Buxton, one of the study leaders and a specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The findings of this study were published earlier this year in one of the issues of Science Translational Medicine journal causing quite an impressive public resonance. Some experts said that the number of the participants has been too small to make the findings applicable for the wider public. However, negative health impacts of shift working is not being denied by anyone.

“This is an interesting study which shows that under extreme conditions involving sleep deprivation and ‘tricking’ the body clock, participants produced less insulin and therefore had higher blood glucose levels then when they were able to sleep normally and live according to normal daily rhythms,” Dr. Matt Hobbs, a specialists at Diabetes UK, commented on the study. Harvard Medical School experts are calling for immediate effective measures to lower the effects of shift working on modern people in order to protect them from health disorders, reduce their risks of obesity and risks of diabetes. Read more about the findings of this interesting study and the effects of a lack sleep on our health here.

Sleep And Caffein Effects On Our Sleep

Caffeine And SleepA lot is known about the effects of caffeine on our sleep. Along with such factors as stresses, worries, pains, or incorrect sleeping environment, which can seriously affect our sleep, increased caffeine consumption can also have negative effects on our sleep. Most of the people notice that they can not fall asleep after drinking too much of coffee. According to the findings of a study by a group of experts at Neuroscience Center Zürich and Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zürich, our individual caffeine sensitivity is something that depends on our genetics. It is reported that our caffeine sensitivity is related to the distribution of certain genotypes of the A2A receptor gene (ADORA2A) (see more in one of the latest issues of the Sleep magazine).

There are other interesting conclusions and scientific findings regarding the links between sleep and caffeine consumption. According to the report published this month in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care, caffeine-related insomnia and caffeine sensitivity can develop in school-aged children. After using the data from the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep on over 600 modern teenagers from the United States, American scientists came to the conclusions that the earlier caffeine exposure takes place in children, the more caffeine sensitive these children can be in their adulthood. In addition to strong links between sleep, caffeine consumption and age, it was also found out that early exposure to caffeine is also associated with higher chances of having higher body mass index and being affected by all related health risks.

Finally, the findings of one more related study were recently published, giving us a new light on how our sleep can be affected by our caffeine consumption. It is really amazing, but a group of the scientists at the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department at Stanford University are convinced that caffeine has much stronger and more serious effects on those people who are known as ‘larks’ or ‘morning birds’ (those who wake up early and are very active during the day). At the same time, those who are known as ‘owls’ or ‘night people’ (those who wake up late and usually come to peak of their activities late at night) are considerably less affected by caffeine. These findings were presented in one of the latest issues of the Sleep Journal and received quite a vivid reaction in scientific circles.

The experiment involved a number of university students who agreed to volunteer for this kind of scientific work. Most of those turned out to be ‘owls’, who enjoyed staying awake late at night, studying, watching movies, or partying. Overwhelming majority of such students were not affected by caffeine consumption at all. Those of the students who were ‘morning birds’ were found out to have serious problems and sleep disruptions after increased caffeine consumption. Therefore, the links between our sleep and caffeine can be stipulated by our biological clock, and those of us who are the early birds should keep this caffeine consumption under a strict control, in order to avoid developing insomnia or other common sleep disorders.

Good Sleep Habits Are Not Known In China

Good sleep habitsThe problem of not getting enough of sleep, developing good sleep habits and taking most benefits from restful night’s sleep is very well familiar to many of us. A great deal of people in modern Europe and the US suffer from various sleep disorders, from chronic insomnia to sleep apnea, and are looking for answer to the question how to get good sleep at night. Certainly, similar problems are being faced by people of other countries, like China. However, according to Chinese experts, there is one more related social issue in their nation which requires immediate attention and action. It is estimated that in modern China, about 40 per cent of people suffer from sleep disorders. At the same time, only 1 per cent of those are aware about the problem, look for the ways to treat this condition and seek for help.

According to Dr. Han Fang, vice-president of the Chinese Sleep Research Society and an expert at the Peking University People’s Hospital, such practice as working shits is very common in China, imposing a great deal of risks to health and well being of modern Chinese people. Shift workers have distorted sleep-awake routine, usually accompanied with extremely high risks of having sleep disorders and related health conditions, which in turn have great impacts on such people’s productivity and working efficiency. Combined with other factors like the world’s tendency to being overweight and getting fatter, this fact can cause very serious social consequences in quite short period of time, Chinese experts at the Ministry of Health and the Chinese Sleep Research Society warn.

According to Dr. Han Fang, about 30 per cent of today’s Chinese people suffer from the most common sleep disorder, chronic insomnia, and up to 4 per cent actually have quite serous sleep problems, accompanied with such symptoms as severe snoring, airway resistance syndrome, sleep apnea, and many more. It is estimated that up to 70 per cent of children in China also have sleep disorders ranging from insufficient and irregular sleep and ending up with total unawareness of good sleep habits. Those are the findings of a recent extensive national study conducted by Chinese sleep experts and involved analyzing info on 30,000 children from a series of big cities throughout China. “Early school hours and heavy homework caused children to have less time to sleep,”  Han Fang said.

Low awareness about the problem makes people suffer and risk their health without knowing what is the cause. There are over 15 hundred specialized sleep centers in China, with plenty of specialists who can help to answer the questions, how to get good sleep or how to develop good sleep habits. “Almost all of the centers in relatively large cities are now running at full capacity and patients even have to wait for months to see the doctor,” the expert says. Compared to the situation with sleep disorder awareness and treatment in the US, where for 300,000 million people there are over 2,000 sleep centers, the problem in China requires immediate attention of governmental structures, Dr. Han Fang concludes.