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Teens who don’t sleep enough more likely to suffer from this

The 14-year-olds in the study who slept less than seven hours were 72 percent more likely to be overweight.

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bright closeup picture of sleeping teenage girl
The lead author of the study said: “Parents can set a good example by having a consistent bedtime and limiting screen time in the evening.”
(Ground Picture/Shutterstock)

By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Teenagers who don’t get enough sleep are likely to pile on the pounds and suffer future health problems warns new research.

A lack of sufficient sleep can lead to obesity and high blood pressure and blood sugar levels - increasing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

Study author Jesús Martínez Gómez, said: “Our study shows that most teenagers do not get enough sleep and this is connected with excess weight and characteristics that promote weight gain, potentially setting them up for future problems.”

Researchers compared the sleep pattern and the health of 1,229 youngsters in the Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona aged between 12 and 16, with an equal number of boys and girls being monitored.

Researchers used waist circumference, blood pressure and blood sugar levels to determine the health of each participant.

They also took into consideration the child’s background. This includes their migrant status, how much they exercise, whether they smoke, their family upbringing and where they grew up.

The researchers measured the sleep of each person for 7 days and found that older children slept less than younger ones.

Those who slept less than seven hours were labeled as very short sleepers, while those who slept between seven and eight hours were short sleepers. The optimal sleepers slept eight hours or more.

Just over a third of 12-year-olds (34 percent) slept for at least eight hours, while only 23 percent of 14-year-olds slept for the optimal amount of time.

health, beauty and childhood concept - smiling girl child waking up in bed at home
Health promotion programmes in schools should teach good sleep habits. (Ground Picture via Shutterstock)

The worst age group was the 16-years-olds, as less than one in five (19 percent) slept for eight hours or more.

The study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, found that 27 percent of the 12-year-olds, 24 percent of the 14-year-olds and 21 percent of the 16-year-olds were overweight.

The 12-year-olds sleeping less than seven hours were 21 percent more likely to be obese than optimal sleepers. Those at this age sleeping between seven and eight hours were 19 percent more likely to be overweight.

However, it was significantly higher in 14-year-olds. Those who slept less than seven hours were 72 percent more likely to be fatter than those sleeping eight hours or more, while the rate decreased to 29 percent among those who slept between seven and eight hours.

The 12 and 14-year-olds not sleeping the optimal amount had higher average blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Consequently, these children are at greater risk of developing heart diseases.

Martínez Gómez, a researcher at the Spanish National Centre for Cardiovascular Research (CNIC), said: “Excess weight and metabolic syndrome are ultimately associated with cardiovascular diseases.”

The study also found that optimal sleepers had a better quality of sleep and on average boys slept less than girls.

Martínez Gómez said: “Health promotion programs in schools should teach good sleep habits.

“Parents can set a good example by having a consistent bedtime and limiting screen time in the evening.”

He added: “Public policies are also needed to tackle this global health problem.

“We are currently investigating whether poor sleep habits are related to excessive screen time, which could explain why older adolescents get even less sleep than younger ones.”

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