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Eight hours of sleep for heart health

Teenagers who don’t get a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night are more likely to develop heart disease later in life, a study has found. Canadian researchers investigated the association between sleep quality and duration with cardiovascular risk factors such as cholesterol, hypertension, body mass index and dietary factors in adolescents.

15 Oct 2012

Teenagers who don’t get a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night are more likely to develop heart disease later in life, a study has found.

Canadian researchers investigated the association between sleep quality and duration with cardiovascular risk factors such as cholesterol, hypertension, body mass index and dietary factors in adolescents.

The researchers found, that of the 4100 teenagers who participated in the study, nearly 20 per cent reported poor quality of sleep during the week and 10 per cent reported poor sleep on the weekends. On average, the participants slept 7.9 hours per night on weeknights and 9.4 hours per night on weekends.

Poor sleep quality included difficulty falling asleep, restlessness, frequently waking during the night and waking early. Participants who had poor sleep quality were identified to exercise less, spend more time in front of the TV and eat a poorer diet than those who had adequate sleep.

Participants who had poor sleep quality were also found to have higher cholesterol levels, higher blood pressure, a higher body mass index and a larger waist – all potential risk factors for heart disease.

Researchers took these factors into consideration and found that those who had poor sleep were linked to a higher rate of potential heart risks despite their lifestyle choices.

Participants with the worst sleep quality were found to be 43 per cent more likely to have heart risk factors.

Lead researcher Dr Indra Narag, Director of Sleep Medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, said the importance of sleep hygiene could not be over-emphasised.

“In general, we recommend teenagers get between eight and nine hours of sleep each night,” Dr Narag said. “But, in reality, the study indicates that half of the teenagers examined got fewer than seven hours of sleep on weeknights.

“Weekends are a different story, since kids often take the chance to sleep in. But that doesn’t make up for late nights during the week”.

Dr Narag said parents should encourage their children to keep a consistent sleep schedule by removing stimulants such as TVs, computers and mobile phones from their bedrooms.

She also indicated that energy drinks are a major culprit in affecting the quality of sleep among teenagers.

KW


Published: 15 Oct 2012