Summary: Exercise intervention may help to stem sleep problems in teens, a new study reports.
Source: James Cook University.
A collaborative research project involving James Cook University and the University of Queensland indicates high rates of sleep problems continuing through teenage years and into early adulthood – but also suggests a natural remedy.
Dr. Yaqoot Fatima from JCU’s Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health was associated with a study that tracked more than 3600 people from the age of 14 until they were 21.
“Just over a quarter of the 14-year-olds reported sleep problems, with more than 40 percent of those still having sleep problems at 21,” said Dr. Fatima.
She said the causes of sleep problems were different at different ages.
“Maternal factors, such as drug abuse, smoking, depression and anxiety among mothers are the most significant predictors of adolescent sleep problems in their children, at 14-years-old. For all people studied, being female, having experienced early puberty, and being a smoker were the most significant predictors of sleep problems at 21 years.”
She said adolescent depression or anxiety were linking factors for sleep problems between the two ages.
“It’s a vicious circle. Depression and anxiety are well-established risk factors for sleep problems and people with sleep problems are often anxious or depressed,” she said.
Dr. Fatima said that as well as the traditional factors, excessive use of electronic media is emerging as another significant risk.
“In children and adolescents, it’s found to be strongly associated with later bedtime and shorter sleep duration, increasing the risk of developing sleep disturbances,” she said.
Dr. Fatima said the study was worrying as it revealed a high incidence of persistent sleep problems and possible concurrent health problems among young people – but it also strongly suggested an answer to the problem.
“Even allowing for Body Mass Index and other lifestyle factors, we found that an active lifestyle can decrease future incidence and progression of sleep problems in young subjects. So, early exercise intervention with adolescents might provide a good opportunity to prevent their sleep problems persisting into later life.”
She said the next study being considered would look at what factors lead to young adults’ sleep problems continuing as they grow older and how that might be prevented.
Source: Alistair Bone – James Cook University
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Original Research: Abstract for “Continuity of sleep problems from adolescence to young adulthood: results from a longitudinal study” by Fatima Y, Doi SAR, Najman JM, and Al Mamun A in Sleep Health. Published online May 9 2017 doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2017.04.004
Continuity of sleep problems from adolescence to young adulthood: results from a longitudinal study
Considering the lack of evidence on incidence and continuity of sleep problems from adolescence to young adulthood, this study explores sleep problems’ incidence and their continuation rates from 14 to 21 years.
Sleep data from the 14-year (n = 4,924) and 21-year (n = 3660) follow-up of the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy cohort were used. Sociodemographic, lifestyle, and psychological conditions were explored for their role in sleep problems. Modified Poisson regression with a robust error variance was used to identify predictors. Inverse probability weights were used to account for attrition.
Of all subjects, 26.0% of the subjects at 14 years and 28.3% of the subjects at 21 years reported “often” sleep problems, with 41.7% of adolescent sleep problems persisting at 21 years. Perinatal and early-life maternal factors, for example, drug abuse (incidence rate ratio (IRR), 1.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02-1.71), smoking, depression, and anxiety, were significant predictors of adolescent sleep problems. Female sex (IRR, 2.13; 95% CI, 1.55-2.94), advanced pubertal stages, and smoking were the important predictors of sleep problems at 21 years. Adolescent depression/anxiety supported the continuity of sleep problems (IRR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.05-1.40), whereas exercise was seen to exert a protective effect.
This study indicates high rates of sleep problems in young subjects, with around half of sleep problems originating in adolescence persisting in young adulthood. Therefore, early interventions are needed to manage sleep problems in young subjects and prevent further progression to other life stages. Future studies should explore if sleep problems in young adults also persist in later life stages and identify the factors supporting the continuity of sleep problems.
“Continuity of sleep problems from adolescence to young adulthood: results from a longitudinal study” by Fatima Y, Doi SAR, Najman JM, and Al Mamun A in Sleep Health. Published online May 9 2017 doi:10.1016/j.sleh.2017.04.004