+ Poor Sleep May Trigger High Blood Pressure in Teens

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A Reuters report says US researchers have determined that poor teen sleep habits are not just a parental annoyance; they can have serious effects on teen blood pressure.

High blood pressure can damage arteries and kidneys, causing stroke, kidney disease and other illnesses.

Writing in the American Heart Association journal ‘Circulation,’ the researchers at Case Western Reserve University found that teens who slept fewer than 6 1/2 hours a night had more than twice the risk of high blood pressure and those with troubled sleep had more than triple the risk. 

The pattern held even when adjusted for sex, weight and socio-economic status.

Says Dr. Susan Redline, “Our study underscores the high rate of poor quality and inadequate sleep in adolescence, coupled with the risk of developing high blood pressure and other health problems.  We also found that a low sleep efficiency may be more consistently associated with pre-hypertension than a shorter sleep period.”

For adults, high blood pressure is defined as a reading of 140/90 or above.  For children, it is defined as being in the 90th percentile for their age.  Fourteen percent of the adolescents studied had high blood pressure or readings at the borderline, which is called ‘hypertension.’

The teens in the study reported 7.7 hours of sleep a night on average; they need nine.  And 16 percent of them had low sleep efficiency: trouble falling asleep or waking up too early.  Another 11 percent slept less than 6 1/2 hours a night.

These associations can have a large public health impact.

“Part of the reason,” says Redline, “is the technological invasion of the bedroom with computers, cell phones and music.  There are teens who text message or listen to music all night, compounded with early school hours.”

“Parents should optimize sleep quality for their family with regular sleep and wake times, and bedrooms should be kept quiet, dark and conducive to sleep,” she adds.  

In addition, Redline notes that the study may actually underestimate the problem, since it excluded children with known sleep disorders and other illnesses.

sole source: Reuters online article by Maggie Fox and Todd Eastham on 8/18/08.  www.reuters.com

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