According to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), adolescents who sleep poorly may be at risk of cardiovascular disease in later life.
“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.”
The study involved 4104 adolescents in the Healthy Heart Schools’ Program in the Niagara region of Ontario. A community partnership between Heart Niagara Inc. and researchers from SickKids examined the association between poor sleep and indicators of cardiovascular disease risk such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high BMI and poor diet. It was revealed that students who consumed more fried foods, soft drinks, sweets and caffeinated drinks exercised less and had more screen time had higher sleep disturbance scores.
“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.
These new findings suggest that sleep disturbance in adolescents may significantly impact their cardiovascular risk in adulthood. It also suggested that efforts for improving sleep habits early in life could be important for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.