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Lack of Sleep Linked to Higher Blood Pressure, Body Fat

8/6/2018
 

Adolescents who did not get enough sleep had higher body fat and blood pressure, according to a new study. While previous research has found links between sleep and body mass index (BMI), the authors sought to determine whether sleep is associated with other cardiometabolic measures.

In a cross-sectional study, 829 adolescents with a median age of 13 years wore monitors that measured their sleep and physical activity. The children’s median sleep duration was 7.35 hours a night. Only 2.2% met the National Sleep Foundation recommendations for at least eight hours of sleep a night for teens ages 14-17 years and nine hours for 11- to 13-year-olds. After falling asleep, adolescents spent about 84% of the time asleep before getting up for good, known as their sleep efficiency.

Researchers found more sleep and better sleep were linked with less body fat. They also were tied to lower metabolic risk scores measured by smaller waist circumference, lower systolic blood pressure and higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, according to the study “Objective Sleep Characteristics and Cardiometabolic Health in Young Adolescents” (Cespedes Feliciano EM, et al. Pediatrics. June 15, 2018, https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2017-4085).

In this study, many associations between sleep and cardiometabolic health remained after controlling for BMI and obesity-related behaviors like TV watching and fast-food consumption. Authors noted abnormalities in the nervous system may play a role in the sleep-health connection. They urged pediatricians and parents to treat adolescent sleep seriously. “Optimizing children’s health should include strategies used to address child and adolescent sleep, including duration and efficiency, and to screen for sleep problems and disorders,” authors wrote.

Let’s get our children, teens, and young adults more sleep! Put away the screens and turn off the TV at least 1-2 hours before bedtime. Put those screens and phones downstairs at bedtime – don’t fall for the “I use my phone as an alarm clock….” Encourage reading before bed. Having good sleep hygiene makes a world of difference for a happier and healthier life. Sleep = happiness 😊

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