Teens who have a hard time sleeping through the night may also have a higher risk of developing heart disease later on, a new Canadian Medical Association Journal study suggests.
Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children in Canada found that sleep disturbances were linked with higher cholesterol levels, blood pressure levels and body mass index in teens -- all factors that can raise the risk of heart disease later on.
"These findings are important, given that sleep disturbance is highly prevalent in adolescence and that cardiovascular disease risk factors track from childhood into adulthood," study researcher Dr. Indra Narang, director of sleep medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children, said in a statement.
Narang and her colleagues examined the sleep of 4,104 teens who were part of the Health Heart Schools' Program in Ontario. On average, the teens slept 7.9 hours on schoolnights and 9.4 hours on the weekends, they found.
However, poor sleep during weeknights was reported by nearly 20 percent of the students in the study, and poor sleep during the weekends was reported by 10 percent.
Not only did researchers find that sleep quality was linked with increased blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI in the teens, but they also found that sleep quality was linked with eating junk food and leading a sedentary lifestyle.
Teens who didn't get a lot of sleep each night were also more likely to have a higher BMI than teens who got a lot of sleep each night, but sleep duration did not seem to have a connection with blood pressure or cholesterol, researchers found.