Teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be obese

  • Teens who don’t get enough sleep may be at risk for certain health problems, a new study reveals.
  • Teens who sleep less than eight hours a night are more likely to be at risk for obesity and high blood pressure.
  • Lack of sleep can lead to an imbalance of hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism.

A new study reveals that teens who don’t get enough sleep may be at risk for increased health problems like obesity and high blood pressure.

According to a study presented at the 2022 ESC Congress, adolescents who sleep less than eight hours per night are more likely to be at risk for these conditions. The study found that at age 12, only 34% of participants slept at least eight hours a night. The percentage dropped to 23% and 19% at ages 14 and 16, respectively.

The prevalence of overweight/obesity was 27%, 24% and 21% at 12, 14 and 16 years, respectively.

Children who slept less than 7 hours were 21% more likely to be obese at age 12 and 72% more likely to be obese at age 14, compared to children who slept more than 8 hours.

“Sleep should be considered a pillar of comprehensive health care, complementing daily nutrition and physical activity to maintain optimal health,” said Dr. Louis Morledge, internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “Americans, young and old, would benefit from a good night’s sleep in addition to eating a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity for their overall health.”

Lack of sleep can lead to an imbalance of hormones that regulate appetite and metabolism. Studies have shown that sleep restriction is associated with increased hunger and appetite, especially for high-calorie foods.

“Being sleep deprived makes you feel hungry, and makes you crave and crave unhealthy foods,” said Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright, psychotherapists, authors and sleep experts who recently published the book. Insomnia Generation. “Sleep loss can also cause chronic inflammation as the brain and body are left in a continuous state of stress. This has a direct impact on immediate and long-term health.

The reasons teens don’t get enough sleep are long, especially today in a world of constant digital content.

“Many of the factors that cause problems with ensuring a good night’s sleep can be tied to the simple notion of ‘too much,'” Morledge said. “Overstimulation too late in the evening, using tech gadgets with excessive light exposure, caffeine ingestion, physical space issues, can impede sleep. Removing some, if not all, of these barriers and prioritizing sleep is essential for healthier vision.

In their book, Turgeon and Wright lay out a perfect storm of factors:

“The biological clock changes later in adolescence, making it easier to stay up late. Then excessive high school homework and activities push bedtime much later. The wrecking ball is technology , which makes it harder to focus and work, and when it’s finally over, they just want to stay up and engage.

They add, “Tech companies are only too happy to prey on teens’ desire to connect, so there’s no letting go of smartphones. The final factor impacting sleep is starting high school too early.

This last point is important and can be changed across the country to impact student sleep patterns.

In 2019, California lawmakers passed a law requiring public high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and no earlier than 8:00 a.m. for middle school. The law entered into force on July 1, 2022.

“It’s been a long time coming because the research on late start times has been clear and solid for decades,” Turgeon and Wright said. “Teenagers naturally have delayed biological clocks, so they want to fall asleep and wake up later. Making them wake up at 6 a.m. has always been a bad idea and has almost been a form of torture all these years, because 6 a.m. for a teenager is 4 a.m. for an adult.

Teenagers can make some lifestyle changes to promote healthy sleep habits. Ideally, abstaining from caffeine would be a good first step, as well as putting away technology like smartphones and tablets an hour before bed.

“We teach adolescents to focus on wake-up time first rather than bedtime,” Turgeon and Wright said. “You can’t force yourself to go to bed, but you can force yourself to wake up.” On weekends, they suggest waking up one to two hours past your school day’s wake-up time. It makes it easier to fall asleep at night.

Going outside for 5-10 minutes is also helpful. They add, “This powerful solar signal is what really lets the brain know it’s time to start the day, which kicks up sleepiness chemicals at the right time of the night.”

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