Teen Insomnia Could Prompt Adult Heart Disease

One in five teens is not getting enough sleep, which creates behavioral problems now but may mean serious heart problems in the future.

Teenagers need more sleep than adults — about nine hours per night, sleep experts say. Many teens — 20 percent, according to one study — are not getting the sleep they need.

It’s tempting to think that it is parents and teachers who suffer most when teens are sleep-deprived. Tired teens tend to be surly and uncommunicative. But research shows it is not just their behavior that is affected by a lack of sleep. Teens who are chronically sleep deprived are doing damage to their hearts.

Another factor in the sleep-heart equation: Many adolescents eat more junk food and drink more caffeine than they should. Preetam Bandla, MD, a pediatric sleep specialist at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle was surprised to find they also have higher cholesterol levels, higher blood pressure, and bigger waistlines.

Madeleine Weinstein of Seattle was one of those high school students who did not get enough sleep. But by following guidelines from Dr. Bahdla — changing her diet and, especially, cutting out screen time before bed — she is now sleeping better and feeling better.

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