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Sep 24, 2014 06:42 AM EDT

Sleep Disturbance Affects Academic Performance of Adolescents, Study

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Turkey's president Erdogan struggles to stay awake during briefing in Kiev

Adolescents, who experience sleep disturbance or short sleep duration, are less likely to excel in academics, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Uppsala University.

For the study, the researchers examined more than 20,000 adolescents, aged between 12 and 19 years, from the Uppsala county.

The researchers found that sleep-deprived teens or those suffering from short sleep duration (less than 7 hours per day) face a heightened risk of failure in school.

The finding suggests that sleep plays a crucial role in adolescents' performance at school.

"Another important finding of our study is that around 30 percent of the adolescents reported regular sleep problems. Similar observations have been made in other adolescent cohorts, indicating that sleep problems among adolescents have reached an epidemic level in our modern societies", said Christian Benedict at the Department of Neuroscience, in a press release.

The finding is published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

A recent research by American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that getting the right amount of sleep might keep depression at bay. The researchers said that sub-optimal sleep or too much sleep can trigger genes linked with the condition and increase the risk for major depression.

"Healthy sleep is a necessity for physical, mental and emotional well-being," President Dr. M. Safwan Badr said in a press release. "We were surprised that the heritability of depressive symptoms in twins with very short sleep was nearly twice the heritability in twins sleeping normal amounts of time. Both short and excessively long sleep durations appear to activate genes related to depressive symptoms."

The researchers said that doctors need to have a conversation with their patients about their sleeping patterns to effectively treat depression.

"These results are important because they suggest that sleep deprivation may be a precursor for major depression in adolescents, occurring before other symptoms of major depression and additional mood disorders," said principal investigator Dr. Robert E. Roberts, who is also a professor. "Questions on sleep disturbance and hours of sleep should be part of the medical history of adolescents to ascertain risk."

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