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? A 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.