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The recommended sleep time to maintain optimal health is around eight hours. However, most teenagers don’t get enough sleep for different reasons, and scientists warn that this might lead to serious health problems later in life. For example, researchers from Sweden have established that lack of sleep in teenagers increases Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 

Multiple Sclerosis manifests in 34 years 

The average age at which this autoimmune disorder manifests itself is 34. In the case of MS, the immune system attacks the coating that surrounds the nerves. Loss of eyesight, persistent pain, exhaustion, and poor coordination can all result from this. However, it has been unknown if other factors, such as body clock abnormalities and insufficient sleep, affect the chance of developing MS, despite studies showing that working shifts at an early age increases the likelihood of getting the diagnosis.

Researchers reviewed information from the Epidemiological Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis (EIMS), which included 16-70-year-old Swedish citizens. The researcher recruited MS patients from private neurology clinics and hospitals and matched every patient by sex, age, and residential jurisdiction with healthy individuals from the national population register between 2005-2013 and 2015-2018. 

Short sleep increases MS risk

Researchers focused on sleep patterns for individuals aged 15 to 19 and included 2,075 MS patients and 3,164 healthy people in the analysis. They asked participants how long they slept on school days or at work and during weekends and free days. Sleep duration was classified as short (below 7 hours), adequate (7-9 hours), and long (more than 10 hours). The subjects also had to assess sleep quality at various stages using a 5-point scale, with five meaning very good. 

The findings indicate that less sleep during adolescence—especially less-than-satisfactory sleep—increased the probability of being diagnosed with MS. After controlling for potential confounding variables, including smoking and BMI, short sleep showed a relationship to a 40% increased risk of having MS relative to appropriate sleep. However, excessive sleep during the weekdays, weekends, or both didn’t result in the same elevated risk.

Researchers conclude that low sleep quality and inadequate sleep during adolescence increase the risk of developing MS.