Teenagers these days seem to get less sleep than ever before. From earlier school start times and a predisposition to be awake at all hours of the night, the sleep problem epidemic has not bypassed our younger generation. Teenagers should get about 9 hours of sleep a night, and studies show that only about 15% of teens actually get that amount of shut-eye.
A new study has linked this lack of sleep to inflammation in teens. This is not just simple, trouble-free inflammation though. While it may have no immediate effect on a teenager’s health, it can have lasting negative results on the individual’s health throughout his or her entire lifetime.
This particular study measured C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in teens. High CRP levels show that the body is in “inflammation mode,” as explained by an expert. While high CRP levels are concerning on their own, if the CRP levels stay high over an extended period of time, the risk of health issues only rises. Coronary artery disease, other types of heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, arthritis, and countless other medical issues can result from high levels of CRP over a prolonged period of time.
While this particular study only measured the CRP levels at one point in time, teenagers are likely to have poor sleep habits and lower amounts of sleep all throughout their schooling years, as pressures increase and their lives become busier. Of the teenagers in this study, 13% were considered high-risk based on their CRP levels. Those teenagers, on average, had less than 6 hours of sleep on weeknights, and between 7 and 8 hours of sleep per night on the weekends. The inconsistent sleep patterns are a large contributing factor to the higher CRP levels, so all people, teenagers especially, should strive to maintain consistent amounts of sleep every night of the week. Keeping consistent sleep patterns and getting the recommended amount of sleep each night will lower CRP levels, inflammation, and the high risk of health problems that come along with them.