Staying up later is one of the perks of getting older when you’re a kid. However, a new study published in ERJ Open Research suggests that teens who stay up late run a higher risk of developing asthma and allergies than teens who go to sleep and wake up earlier.
There have been links in the past between the body’s internal clock and asthma symptoms, but this is the first study to take sleep preferences into consideration, further adding to the argument that when you’re sleeping is just as important as how long you’re sleeping.
The Sleep and Asthma Study
A team of researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada, chose to explore this connection between sleep and respiratory health due to the rise of asthma and allergic disease in children and adolescents across the globe. Even though poor air quality from tobacco smoke and pollution accounts for much of this increase, researchers wanted to explore it further.
Their study took place in West Bengal, India, and analyzed 1,684 adolescents, ages 13-14.
The teens shared whether they were early birds, night owls, or somewhere in the middle and what time of day they were typically sleepy. Participants were also asked to share about any wheezing, sneezing, runny nose, or other asthma and allergy symptoms they experienced.
Researchers included other contributing factors such as living conditions and whether any family members smoked.
Results suggested that the chances of having asthma were around three times higher in teenagers who preferred going to bed late and waking up late. They were two times more likely to suffer from allergic rhinitis than those who went to bed at an earlier time.
Lead author, Subhabrata Moitra, Ph.D., is quoted saying, “Our results suggest there’s a link between preferred sleep time and asthma and allergies in teenagers.” While more research needs to be done, Moitra believes an allergic response is being triggered when the body’s natural sleep hormone, melatonin, is disrupted.
Knowing there is more work that needs to be done, the team is hoping more researchers will join them in their efforts to unlock the full connection between teen sleeping habits and respiratory health.
Dr. Moitra and his team will enter the second phase of the study in 2028-29 with a new group of teenagers to see if any noticeable changes have occurred, and they hope to quantify their findings with objective measurements of teen’s lung function and sleep time.
While we wait for more conclusions, you or your teen can try some of the following tips for drifting off to sleep naturally and quickly. And remember the impact of air quality and the temperature in your home on everyday activities and sleep.