The study is the first of its kind to examine the link between elevated blood pressure and sleep quality in healthy adolescents.
The research team analysed 238 children aged 13 to 16 years who had not been diagnosed with sleep apnea or other problems. The results showed that shorter sleep time but of poor quality was linked to high blood pressure.
The study took part in a lab and at home with participants wearing movement detectors on their wrists to monitor sleeping patterns. A sleep log was also completed to estimate sleep patterns. In the lab, blood pressure readings were taken and a polysomnograph machine monitored brain function, eye and body movement and breathing.
Among the results, the odds of high blood pressure increased by three and half times for teenagers with poor quality sleep and more than twice for those who had slept for less than 6.5 hours.
The team suggested the link is not explained by socioeconomic status, obesity, sleep apnea, or known comorbidities, but that inadequate sleep is associated with elevated blood pressure.
Part of the problem is believed to be the available technology teenagers now have in their bedrooms. MP3 players, mobile phones and personal computers were among the items teenagers now have in their rooms. Sending text messages, surfing the web or listening to music on a school night compresses the time left for sleep.