Adolescents’ sleep loss linked to neighbourhood conditions

Lack of sleep decreases brain wave activity associated with cognition, says new study

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Adoloscents'Adolescents’ loss of sleep is linked to conditions in the neighbourhood, according to the findings of a new study.

The study which has been published in the journal Sleep says conditions such as loud noise and few trees in neighborhoods seem to affect how much sleep adolescents get.

Researchers measured in a second study young people’s brainwaves to observe the troublesome effects of sleep loss on memory and cognitive function

Study author Ian G. Campbell, Ph.D., a professor in UC Davis’s psychiatry and behavioral sciences department, said, “Modest sleep restriction produced strong changes in the brain waves, which may explain how sleep loss impairs adolescents’ cognitive function.”

He added: “We were surprised by the magnitude of the effect.”

The findings were reported by two scientific teams funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(link is external), about six out of 10 (57.8%) middle school students and seven out of 10 (72.7%) high school students in the US do not get the recommended amount of sleep on school nights, increasing their risk for future chronic disease development.

Researches have shown a link between insufficient sleep and a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and increased risk-taking behaviors in adolescents.

During the new residential environment study involving 110 adolescents, the researchers found that just small increases in neighborhood noise had a negative effect on sleep. In scientific terms, each standard deviation above average noise levels was linked to a 16-minute delay in falling sleep and 25% lower odds of sleeping at least eight hours per night.

Effects of green space
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When the researchers looked at the effects of green space, however, they found that the teens who lived in neighborhoods with just one standard deviation above the average number of trees fell asleep 18 minutes earlier and experienced more favorable sleep times overall.

Study author Stephanie L. Mayne, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, said, “For adolescents, the harms of insufficient sleep are wide-ranging and include impaired cognition and engagement in antisocial behavior.”

Stephanie added: “This makes identifying strategies to prevent and treat the problem critical. Our findings suggest that neighborhood noise and green space may be important targets for interventions.”

In a bid to record their sleep times and duration, the students in Mayne’s study wore wrist actigraphy watches for 14 days in both eighth and ninth grades.

Their home addresses were mapped to show sound levels, tree canopy cover, and housing and population density. The researchers then considered sex, race, parental education, household income and size, and neighborhood poverty to reach their conclusions.

During sleep, the brain replays, analyzes information, learns, and restores itself, all processes that sustain physical and mental health and overall performance. According to the researchers, the EEG changes in response to even modest reductions of the adolescents’ time in bed indicate insufficient sleep recovery.

(With inputs from The OnLook News Research Bureau)

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