Poor Sleep May Increase Multiple Sclerosis Vulnerability in Teens

New study revealed that poor sleep and multiple sclerosis (MS) in teens may be linked.

Sleep is crucial to both mental and physical health and lacking in shut eye can have serious consequences. Even a day of low-quality sleep can heavily affect your day and impact your mood.

What is multiple sclerosis?

MS is a condition that impairs the central nervous system, including our brain and spinal cord. Our immune system strikes myelin, the protecting cover of nerve fibers, which leads to communication complications between the brain and the rest of the body. MS can ultimately lead to indefinite damage of nerve fibers.

Symptoms of MS is different for everyone, but can result in vision loss, fatigue, and damaged coordination. It can also result in vertigo, cognitive complications, and numbness in limbs. There is yet to be a cure for MS, but there are treatments to aid with the disease and cope with symptoms.

What did the study find?

Published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, the study involved 2,075 individuals, with 3,164 controls, within the age range of 16 to 70 years old. The Swedish case-controlled study involved participants and their sleep schedule and quality during their teenage years.

The sleep duration was split up into three groups:

  • Less than seven hours of sleep each night, regarded as short sleep.
  • Around seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
  • 10 or more hours of sleep each night, regarded as long sleep.

Research then questioned participants more in-depth about their sleep status, such as quality, and how they slept on different days, including weekends, free days, and school days.

They were to rate the quality of their sleep using a 5-grade scale, including very bad, rather bad, neither good nor bad, rather good, and very good. The study concluded that short sleep, meaning less than seven hours each night during youth years, was linked with a heightened risk of advancing MS.

The quality of sleep also mattered, with low sleep quality leading to MS risk as well. The change of sleep duration during weekends, school days, and more, did not have much impact on the rise of risk for MS.

"Irregular sleep-wake patterns and restricted sleep duration may be consequences of shift work but are also common during adolescence when sleep and circadian timing start to phase delay. Sleep restriction and poor sleep quality affect immune pathways with increased pro-inflammatory signaling, which could increase the risk of inflammatory chronic diseases," stated the study.

The study announced the importance of high-quality sleep at young age to ensure a healthy immune system as adults.

Insufficient sleep can impact us in ways we haven't yet fully understood and with MS largely having an unknown cause, the study may be imperative to future prevention and treatment.

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