Teenagers who are otherwise healthy but who fail to get enough sleep could be at higher risk of heart disease in adulthood, according to the results of a new study.
The research, carried out at the Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, found that poor sleep quality in particular was linked to a higher risk of high blood pressure. Those who simply did not get enough sleep were also found to be at risk, although slightly less so.
Researchers led by Dr Susan Redline of the university’s Sleep Centre looked at the sleep patterns in 238 healthy adolescents aged between 13 and 16.
They found that teenagers who experienced poor quality sleep - those who had trouble falling asleep at night and waking up in the morning - were 3.5 times more likely to experience elevated blood pressure. Meanwhile, the risk in those who slept for less than six-and-a-half hours a night were 2.5 times more at risk.
Dr Redline said that part of the problem could be due to the "technological invasion of the bedroom with computers, cell phones and music".
She added: "Adolescents need nine hours of sleep. Parents should optimise sleep quality for their family with regular sleep and wake times and bedrooms should be kept quiet, dark and conducive to sleep."