It’s 10 p.m. on a school night, and it’s time for your teen to get some shut eye – but, of course, they ‘d rather be playing with their phone or surfing the web. You tell them to go to bed, and they promise they will in a minute. Satisfied, you walk away.
Five minutes pass, then ten, then thirty, and before you know it, it’s midnight; now it’s your turn to catch some Z’s. As you brush your teeth, you can’t help but notice a ghostly white glow coming from your teen’s bedroom. Surprise, surprise: not only are they not asleep, but they haven’t even moved from when you last spoke to them!
Thanks to smart phones and social media, today’s teens can stay in touch 24/7. This may enable them to be more connected, but it also equals less sleep. Current sleep studies indicate that adolescents require about 9 hours of sleep a night. Yet most teens only get 7 or 8 hours (and frequently, even less than that).
Scientific research continues to reiterate the vitality of a good nights’ sleep for optimal health and academic performance.
Now, there’s another incentive to enforce bedtime even more stringently – a pilot sleep program for teens with asthma found that more sleep was associated with improved lung function during the day, and fewer asthma attacks at night.
In other words, sleep may be a teens’ best weapon in the fight against asthma (brief disclaimer: this small-scale study only involved a dozen teenagers, meaning that its findings are preliminary and should be taken with a grain of salt).
Researchers examined the impact of healthy sleep duration on asthma symptoms and pulmonary function through the use of sleep diaries, actigraphs (a device which measures the deepness of sleep), and peak flow meters.
Participants completed a baseline sleep stabilization week, with an average sleep time of 7.5 hours a night (well below the recommended 9 hours); this control period was followed by 5 nights of 10 hours of sleep. Compared to the baseline stabilization period, the extended sleep period was associated with fewer nocturnal asthma symptoms, decreased inflammation, and more consistency in day-to-day pulmonary function.
“Increased sleep duration may contribute to decreased inflammation and improved asthma expression,” reported chief investigation Lisa Meltzer, MD, of the National Jewish Health Center in Denver. Meltzer added that a lack of sleep could impair teens’ adherence to their asthma treatments, as a result of the impairment in executive function that often results from inadequate sleep.
Ongoing research on this topic will involve a larger sample size, and will attempt to further scientists’ understanding of the link between sleep deprivation and respiratory inflammation. In the interim, it looks like parents of asthmatic teens have another incentive to put the brakes on all that nighttime texting.
About the author –
Zoe Camp is an avid health blogger for Just Nebulizers, and a student at Columbia University in New York City. When she’s not blogging about nebulizers, she enjoys researching all things respiratory health.