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Teenage Dream? Not for many young people

Teenage Dream? Not for many young people

Almost 40% of teens who took part in a sleep study suffered from sleep disorders lasting for more than a month.

New research published in the Journal of Primary Health Care found correlations between depression and anxiety, and sleep disorders. Alcohol also played a significant role in sleep disturbance.

Carried out by researchers from the University of Auckland and Manukau District Health Board, the study found that 37.2% of the 1388 students from six high schools surveyed had suffered from a sleep disorder. Boys and girls from two single sex schools had levels of around 50%, the highest being 56.8%.

As a comparison, in the entire population it is estimated that 20-30% of people suffer from some type of sleep problem.

The Auckland Sleep Questionnaire was administered to high school students in the North Island. Schools were chosen to reflect a range of ethnicities and school deciles. No difference was found in the rate of sleep problems reported by different ethnic groups.

Depression and anxiety, at 51.7% and 44.8% respectively, topped the list of underlying symptoms, while alcohol at 12.2% was also high on the list, especially amongst Māori and Pacific youth. Delayed sleep-phase disorder (13.3%) and parasomnias (9.3%), which are abnormal movements or behaviours that translate into partial arousals during sleep, were also noted.

The study found that sleep difficulties in this age-group could increase the risk of substance abuse, affect personal and academic activities, memory, cognitive performance and the ability of the body to recharge.

The researchers said the study had the potential to help doctors better appreciate the burden of sleep disorders faced by young people and more effectively assess and manage different causes of sleep symptoms in this demographic.

The research paper has been published in the December edition of the Journal of Primary Health Care, available on the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ website. This issue also includes a debate about community-wide fluoridation and the use of fish oil to improve concentration in children with ADHD.

ENDS

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