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September 2023
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Blood Pressures Rising Among Youth: Researchers Believe Lack of Sleep May Be to Blame

Tired Teen I hope you’ve read my book, “The Blood Pressure Miracle.” It was previously only available as an e-book but it’s due out in paperback right around the time when school’s back in session. The book’s print date couldn’t come at a better time, as hypertension is becoming more and more common in our teenaged sons and daughters – a time of life where people were once largely immune to high blood pressure readings. But because of the poor lifestyle choices many young people seem to be taking today, the hypertension “immunity idle” has since been revoked.

If you have read my book, you might recall the portion that discusses the role sleep plays in avoiding or precipitating hypertension.  A Columbia University study analyzed the health and sleeping habits of over 4,000 men and women.  Independent of other risk factors, the researchers’ determined that the participants’ blood pressure rates were elevated because of their lack of sleep, just six hours a night on average.  This isn’t much of a surprise, really, as sleep plays a role in the regulation of blood pressure levels. 

If only this information could be hammered into our youth of the nation’s heads like the music blaring from their iPods is.  Because according to a team of researchers from Case Western University, the lack of sleep teens get contributes to hypertension, as the role of sleep on blood pressure levels applies to everyone – not just the folk beyond their high school days.

The study involved approximately 250 students between the ages of 13 and 16.  Besides the regular health check-ups, the researchers asked the participants to fill out a sleep diary, keeping track of how many hours they slept in the study period; the sleeping behaviors of the participants were observed throughout the study period as well.

At the outset, 14 percent of the participants were either pre-hypertensive or hypertensive.  Making sure that other factors didn’t contribute to their findings – like weight, and sex – the researchers found a pattern in the blood pressure levels of the participants and their sleep behavior.  Similar to the aforementioned Columbia University study, the researchers found that the blood pressure levels were higher for those who slept less than six and a half hours on average a night; those who had trouble falling asleep had even higher readings.  These findings led the researchers to conclude that less than six and a half hours of sleep a night doubles the risk of hypertension, and if one has trouble sleeping, that risk is tripled.

Eight hours of sleep is recommended for everyone per night, particularly for teenagers.  This is the stage of life where so much is going on in a teen’s brain, lots of wiring and rewiring that will ultimately determine what kind of adults they’ll turn out to be.  As important as sleep is to the brain, though, it plays an even more important role in the regulation of a healthy blood pressure. 

School days are just about here again.  It’s my hope that as kids shop for back-to-school clothes in the waning days of summer, they will do it on a good night’s sleep.  Hopefully, they’ll continue their good sleeping habits – turning in around the same time every night and awaking around the same time every morning – throughout the school year (consistency in time to bed and time to rise improves sleep quality).  It will not only improve their performance in school, but it will also improve their performance in other aspects of their busy lives, be them in sports (greater concentration skills), with friends (decreased moodiness makes for increased camaraderie) or in the arts (improved focus).

Related Posts

  1. Sleeping Habits Linked to Diabetes Risk, According to Study
  2. Walk to Lower Blood Pressure
  3. Cacao Found to Normalize Blood Sugar Levels, Researchers Report
  4. Sleeplessness Linked To Even More Health Risks
  5. Lower Blood Pressure Through Potassium Intake

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