Teens who get less sleep are more likely to develop heart problems later in life, a new study has found.
Researchers found that of the 4,100 teenagers studied, the third with the poorest sleep quality were more likely to be overweight or have unhealthy blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
Though all the kids in the Canadian study were 'unhealthy', of the third with the worst sleep-scores, determined by studying their sleep quality, 48 percent were found to be overweight or had higher blood pressure, compared to 39 percent in the group that were more well rested.
When it came to risk factors, teens with the worst sleep quality were 43 percent more likely to develop heart problems.
"When people think about cardiovascular risk, sleep doesn't usually come up," senior researcher Dr McCrindle said.
"These findings give some more evidence that sleep is one of the things people should think about."
Though the relationship between sleep quality and heart health in teenagers was consistent, the findings did not prove that sleep problems were directly to blame.
Those with poor sleep — qualified by problems falling or staying asleep, restlessness and bad dreams — were found to have less than ideal lifestyle habits in other areas, including getting less exercise, spending more time in front of the TV, and having a poorer diet.
It was also suggested that those awake in the wee hours had greater opportunity for late-night snacking, which could also be a contributor a poor diet leading to heart problems.
Though the connection between snooze-time and heart health may be indirect, researchers were quick to emphasise the importance of a good night's sleep.
"I think the importance of sleep hygiene cannot be overemphasised," said Dr Indra Narang who led the study.
"In general, we recommend that teenagers get eight to nine hours of sleep each night."
The Australian Centre for Education in Sleep also recommends that adolescents get nine or more hours sleep a night, warning that sleep deprivation could results in an increase in accidents, obesity, sickness, and varied psychological effects.