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Poor Sleep Increases Risk of Heart Disease in Adolescents

Many teens have difficulty sleeping or experience various problems in sleeping, including waking up frequently at night, bad dreams and early waking. Researchers looked into the effects of these sleep disturbances and found that these problems may be increase their risk for health problems later in life.

The study, which was published recently in Canadian Medical Association Journal, links sleep disturbances with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease as evidenced by the high incidence of high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and increased body mass index (BMI) in adolescents who sleep poorly.

Together with her colleagues, lead author Dr. Indra Narang, respirologist and director of sleep medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Toronto, Ontario examined the sleep patterns of more than 4000 adolescents who participated in the Healthy Heart Schools’ Program in the Niagara region of Ontario.  This program identifies adolescents who are at risk for heart disease by screening them for risk factors that lead to heart disease.

They found that although the participants spent an average of nearly 8 hours of sleep on weeknights and 9 hours on weekends, almost 20% slept poorly on weekdays while 10% reported poor quality sleep on weekends. Almost 6% of the teens reported taking medications to aid sleep.

They also discovered that those who had higher sleep disturbance scores exercised less and consumed  more sweets, sugary beverages, caffeine and fried foods compared to those who had less sleep problems. They were also found to have higher BMIs, bigger waists, higher blood pressures and cholesterol levels.

Dr. Brian McCrindle, senior author and cardiologist at SickKids notes that previous research shows sleep disturbances also affect school performance negatively. He believes that parents should actively play a role in monitoring their kids’ sleep habits and behaviors that can affect sleep.


Canadian Medical Association Journal. Poor sleep in adolescents may increase risk of heart disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2012.

Posted in: Lifestyle, News Briefs, Teenage Health

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