Adolescents suffer from permanent lack of sleep

Adolescents suffer from permanent lack of sleep

Lack of sleep endangers the health of young people

Schoolchildren and trainees sleep far too little. Young people in Germany “suffer from permanent lack of sleep, which has an adverse effect on their health, well-being and performance, according to the results of a recent study by sleep and health researchers.

In their investigation, the scientists around Professor Dr. Ulrich Koehler from the Department of Pneumology at the Philipps University Marburg and Dr. Manfred Betz from the Dillenburg Institute for Health Promotion and Research found that on average, adolescents sleep less than the recommended seven hours a day during the week. The result is a permanent lack of sleep, which the adolescents try in vain to compensate for by long sleep on weekends. The persistent sleep deficit has far-reaching negative consequences for the organism, which can range from psychological problems to physical impairments such as headaches or gastrointestinal complaints.

Adolescents sleep far too little during the week The scientists had examined around “8,850 trainees and students from Dillenburg, Wetzlar, Korbach, Marburg, Giessen, Fulda, Frankfurt and Wiesbaden regarding their sleeping habits and health status as part of the German Trainee Health Study (DAGS) “, So the announcement of the Philipps University of Marburg. The researchers led by Prof. Dr. Koehler and Dr. Betz found that the youngsters sleep less than seven hours a day on average during the week. Around 20 percent of the study participants slept less than six hours a night, the experts report. At the weekend, however, the sleep load is significantly higher. Every second student and trainee gets an average of nine hours of sleep here every day.

Earlier school and work as the cause of the sleep deficit? The adolescents "sleep significantly less than older adults, even though they actually need more sleep in their life phase," explained Prof. Koehler, director of the sleep medicine center at the University Hospital Gießen and Marburg (UKGM). According to the expert, people have a different daily rhythm at a young age. They are active for a long time in the evening and would normally sleep until eight or nine in the morning. Sleeping in is usually not possible due to the early start of work or school, so that adolescents build up a permanent sleep deficit. They try to compensate for this by getting up very late at the weekend.

Lack of sleep threatens adolescent health Betz from the Dillenburg Institute for Health Promotion and Research, the current study showed that "almost two thirds of young people do not feel rested and productive during the day". Due to the persistent sleep deficit, "they also suffer from health problems such as psychological complaints, headaches, gastrointestinal complaints," reports Dr. Betz. The result is a more frequent absence from work or school, and the high level of daytime fatigue also significantly increases the risk of accidents, especially in road traffic, the health researcher presented the study results at the national prevention congress in Dresden at the end of September.

A fifth of adolescents suffer from sleep disorders "Good quality and adequate sleep is one of the most important resources for health, especially for adolescents," emphasized Prof. Koehler in a current press release from the University Hospital in Gießen and Marburg. It was therefore an unpleasant surprise to the researchers that, as part of the study, "one in five stated that they had suffered from sleep disorders in the past twelve months" and that only a tenth of those affected were treated for this. The experts see a great need for clarification here, since traditional health promotion measures have so far not considered sleep. Betz said there is now hope "that this will change based on our study results."

Serious health consequences of lack of sleep Not only does lack of sleep manifest itself in chronic fatigue, but has already been associated with considerable health impairments in numerous previous studies. For example, scientists from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston (USA) discovered signs of an increased risk of diabetes in the case of lack of sleep at the beginning of the year. Researchers at Warwick Medical School in the UK published a comprehensive long-term study last year that confirmed numerous health risks from lack of sleep, such as an increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. That adolescents continue to suffer from a lack of sleep is therefore extremely critical. In fact, due to the natural biorhythm of the adolescents, consideration should be given to starting school or working later. (fp)

Image: Benjamin Thorn,

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Video: Generation sleep deprived: How lack of sleep is hurting Canadian teens. In-Depth (September 2020).