Erratic sleep patterns in adolescents with abdominal fat can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease. Find out what parents and teens can do to improve sleep quality.
- Erratic sleep patterns in adolescents may increase blood pressure in those with more abdominal fat, according to a study published in Hypertension.
- Pediatricians should monitor the sleep patterns of overweight or obese youth, as a more regular sleep schedule may help with weight loss and improve heart health.
- Regular sleep patterns may protect adolescents from the cardiovascular consequences of obesity, but early middle and high school start times often make it difficult for teens to get regular, sufficient sleep.
I came across a study published in Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal, that highlights the relationship between erratic sleep patterns, abdominal fat, and high blood pressure in teenagers.
The research conducted by Penn State College of Medicine and the Sleep Research & Treatment Center of Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania, reveals that adolescents with more abdominal fat are at greater risk of high blood pressure if they have irregular sleep patterns.
In this article, I’ll summarize the findings of the study, highlight its limitations and implications, and share practical tips for improving sleep quality.
Irregular Sleep Patterns Linked To High Blood Pressure In Teens With Abdominal Fat
The study evaluated sleep patterns, visceral fat, and blood pressure in 303 adolescents from central Pennsylvania.
The findings show that adolescents with 45-minute or more variations in their sleep patterns during the school week had higher systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure, increasing their risk of heart disease.
The study also revealed that adolescents who fell asleep later on weekdays had higher blood pressure if they had more abdominal fat.
Healthy Sleep Is Crucial For Cardiovascular Health
The American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 recommends healthy sleep as a key factor in total cardiovascular health, along with physical activity, not smoking, healthy weight, and healthy cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
According to the Association’s cardiovascular health metrics, teens ages 13-18 should get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
However, it’s not just the duration of sleep that matters; the quality of sleep is equally important.
Tips For Improving Sleep Quality
Parents and teens can take several steps to improve sleep quality, including:
- Establishing a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends.
- Creating a conducive sleep environment by making the bedroom quiet, cool, and dark.
- Avoiding the use of electronic devices before bedtime.
- Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
- Exercising regularly, but not too close to bedtime.
- Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants in the evening.
Implications And Limitations Of The Study
The study has important implications for pediatricians and parents of adolescents, especially those who are experiencing weight gain or have already become overweight.
It suggests that pediatricians should pay close attention to their patients’ sleep patterns and encourage a more regular sleep schedule to improve their long-term heart health.
Furthermore, the study highlights the need for middle and high schools to consider changing start times to enable adolescents to get sufficient and regular sleep.
The study has some limitations, as it was not a controlled trial, and the participants were from a specific geographical area, which may limit the generalizability of the findings.
However, the findings provide a strong basis for further research on the relationship between sleep patterns, abdominal fat, and cardiovascular health in adolescents.
In conclusion, the study provides compelling evidence that irregular sleep patterns and abdominal fat are risk factors for high blood pressure in adolescents, increasing their risk of heart disease.
Parents and teens can take practical steps to improve sleep quality and protect their long-term cardiovascular health.
Pediatricians and educators should also prioritize raising awareness about the importance of regular sleep schedules and the risks associated with irregular sleep patterns.
Morales-Ghinaglia, N., et al. (2023) Circadian Misalignment Impacts the Association of Visceral Adiposity With Elevated Blood Pressure in Adolescents. Hypertension. doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.122.20398.