Is Your Teen Sleeping Enough?

Poor sleep habits can increase your teen’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Exposing teens to stress management tools, such as yoga or other forms of exercise, teaches them to manage their stress, which can help reduce other risk factors of cardiovascular disease. They sleep better, eat better, and have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight.”

Rajesh V. Maddikunta, MD, FACC

Research published in the July 2018 issue of Pediatrics found that teenagers who get less sleep and have lower sleep efficiency (the percentage of time sleeping versus the total time spent in bed) have more cardiovascular risk factors, including increased body fat, higher systolic blood pressure, and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the good cholesterol).

Rajesh V. Maddikunta, MD, FACC, a Cardiologist at OakLeaf Clinics, says these risk factors related to quality of sleep promote endothelial dysfunction. This can cause atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the arteries, and eventually progress to cardiovascular disease.

“The process initiates while they are teenagers, even though they may not experience the consequences right away,” Dr. Maddikunta says. “However, it sets a foundation that will later affect them as middle-aged adults.”

Teenagers can reduce their cardiovascular risk factors by striving for eight to ten hours of sleep per night. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, urge your teen to:

  • Avoid or quit smoking
  • Consistently take medications for any coexisting conditions
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Learn to manage their stress levels
 Is your teen struggling to fall or stay asleep? The Sleep Disorders Centers at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital can can help diagnose the problem and create a customized treatment plan.

You may also be interested in “Love Helps Counter Toxic Stress in Children.”