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Being A Night Owl May Increase Asthma & Allergies In Teens, Study Says

Teenager Up Late At Night Looking at a Screen
Image by Addictive Creatives / Stocksy
July 6, 2020

Most teens have probably tested the limits of their alarm clock's snooze button or pleaded with their parents for "five more minutes" of sleep. According to new research, struggling to wake up isn't the only side effect of going to sleep late. 

A study published in the European Respiratory Journal (ERJ) found that teens who fall asleep and wake up late are more likely to suffer from asthma and allergies than those who go to bed early. 

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What's the link between sleep and asthma?

Previous research has shown a connection between the circadian rhythm, the sleep hormone (melatonin), and asthma1. Researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada, wanted to explore the connection further while focusing on the sleep patterns of teenagers. 

"Asthma and allergic diseases are common in children and adolescents across the world, and the prevalence is increasing," lead author Subhabrata Moitra, Ph.D., said in a news release. "We know some of the reasons for this increase, such as exposure to pollution and tobacco smoke, but we still need to find out more."

What did the researchers find?

The study analyzed 1,684 teens between the ages of 13 and 14, living in West Bengal, India. Participants were asked to share their experiences with wheezing, asthma, runny noses, and sneezing. They also answered questions that revealed whether the teens were early birds, night owls, or somewhere in between. 

Kids who stayed up and slept in later were three times more likely to have asthma and two times more likely to suffer from allergic rhinitis than those who went to sleep earlier. 

"Our results suggest there's a link between preferred sleep time and asthma and allergies in teenagers," Moitra says. More research is needed to confirm whether staying up late causes asthma, but Moitra believes disrupting the body's natural sleep hormone, melatonin, may trigger an allergic response.

Anyone who has difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or convincing their teens to sleep may benefit from these 20 science-backed ways drift off naturally and quickly.

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