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Sleep Deprivation in Teens Tied to an Increased Risk of Illness

Update Date: Nov 14, 2013 09:10 PM EST

In a new study, researchers examined the effects of sleep deprivation on teenagers' overall health. The research team reported that healthy teenagers who slept less than other teenagers appeared to be more susceptible to acute illnesses, which include colds, the flu and gastroenteritis.

The research team, headed by Kathryn Orzech, Ph.D. from the Bradley Hospital Sleep Research Laboratory, specifically looked at three outcomes between longer and shorter sleepers. The three outcomes included the number of illness events, the duration of the illness and the number of school absences due to the illness. The team looked at the participants' total sleep times six days before and six days after a reported illness.

For both high school boys and girls, longer sleep resulted in fewer illness bouts. Teenagers who slept more also had fewer school absences that were due to illnesses. When the researchers compared boys to girls, they found that males tended to have illness bouts than females did even if they had the same sleep duration patterns.

"Our study looked at rigorously collected sleep and illness data among adolescents who were living their normal lives and going to school across a school term," said Orzech according to Medical Xpress. "We showed that there are short-term outcomes, like more acute illness among shorter-sleeping adolescents, that don't require waiting months, years or decades to show up. Yes, poor sleep is linked to increased cardiovascular disease, to high cholesterol, to obesity, to depression, etc., but for a teenager, staying healthy for the dance next week, or the game on Thursday, may be more important. This message from this study is clear: Sleep more, and more regularly, get sick less."

The study, "Sleep patterns are associated with common illness in adolescents," was published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

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