Bad sleeping patterns early in life may be linked to future health problems

Girl sleeping at school desk

Could adolescents who don’t get enough sleep be setting the stage for heart-related health risks later in life? That’s one of the risks identified by a large-scale research study supported by NIH.

Previous research has linked lack of sleep to obesity and other issues. But this new observational study found that poor sleep quality can also lead to heart problems and other cardiovascular issues.

The study tracked adolescents between the ages of 11 and 13. They wore sleep tracking devices on their wrists to record their sleep times for at least seven days, which is long enough to get an idea of their sleep patterns.

The findings? When compared with well-rested adolescents, their sleep-deprived peers had higher blood pressure, bigger waistlines, and lower levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.

Researchers in the study also measured participants’ waist sizes, blood pressure levels, cholesterol, insulin resistance, and triglycerides.

How can everyone sleep better?

To help improve sleep issues for kids, teens, and adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a consistent bedtime in a dark, quiet, and comfortable room free of electronic devices.

For adolescents in particular, allowing enough time for sleep, 9 to 10 hours, is also key.

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