October 1, 2012
Science Daily/Canadian Medical Association Journal
Adolescents who sleep poorly may be at risk of cardiovascular disease in later life, according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
"We found an association between sleep disturbance and cardiovascular risk in adolescents, as determined by high cholesterol levels, increased BMI [body mass index] and hypertension," writes lead author Dr. Indra Narang, respirologist and director of sleep medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Toronto, Ontario, with coauthors. "These findings are important, given that sleep disturbance is highly prevalent in adolescence and that cardiovascular disease risk factors track from childhood into adulthood."
Approximately 20% of adolescents have significant sleep problems, such as sleep disturbances or sleep deprivation. Sleep disturbances include frequent waking up during the night, early wakening, inability to fall asleep within 30 minutes, restlessness and bad dreams.
Students who consumed more fried foods, soft drinks, sweets and caffeinated drinks exercised less and had more screen time had higher sleep disturbance scores. A higher sleep disturbance score was associated with a higher cholesterol level, higher BMI, larger waist size, higher blood pressure and increased risk of hypertension. Shorter sleep duration was also associated with higher BMI and waist size but not increased cholesterol levels or blood pressure.
"In addition to these health risks, previous studies have shown that poor sleep also negatively impacts school performance. Parents should monitor caffeine intake, bedtimes and bedrooms overloaded with media," says Dr. Brian McCrindle, senior author and cardiologist at SickKids.