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Factor that increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis in adolescents

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Whether it’s diet or exercise – the lifestyle you cultivate when you’re young has health implications later in life. Now researchers have been able to show that this connection also plays a role in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS).

Scientists at Stockholm University have identified a factor that appears to be linked to MS: lack of sleep. Good and long enough sleep is important for our body’s regeneration processes. More and more studies are providing insights into the links between sleep and our health. For example, there is evidence that people between the ages of 50 and 70 who don’t sleep enough have an increased risk of dementia (FITBOOK reported). But it seems that sleep is important at any age, and it also protects against various other diseases. According to Swedish researchers, teens who don’t get enough sleep have an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) later in life.1 This is why it is important for teens to develop good sleep habits.

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is thought to be an autoimmune disease. Nerve fibers in the brain, eyes, and spinal cord gradually wear out over the years and eventually wear out.2 This manifests itself in flare-ups of disease in those affected, with good and bad phases during chronic disease. Symptoms include vision problems and poor movement and balance. So far, the disease cannot be cured. FITBOOK reports on actress Christina Applegate’s illness and what early signs to look out for. In Germany, there are about 250,000 people who currently have MS.3

Also interesting: Anna Kraft on MS: 10 hours of sleep and still tired

Comparing sleep between healthy and sick subjects

For their study, the scientists selected 2,075 people with multiple sclerosis and 3,164 healthy people. The ages of the participants ranged from 16 to 70 years. During the study period from 2005 to 2018, study participants provided information about their sleep habits multiple times in a questionnaire.

The subjects were asked to estimate when they usually went to bed and when they got up on work days or during school hours in different age groups. They also reported when they usually went to bed and when they got up on weekends or days off. The usual length of sleep on work or school days (15-19 years) was divided into three categories:

  • Less than seven hours a night (short sleep)
  • Seven to nine hours a night (normal sleep)
  • Ten or more hours a night (prolonged sleep)

In addition, the subjects were asked to rate their sleep quality at different stages of life. A five-point scale from “very bad” to “very good” was used for this.

Also interesting: how can you survive a lack of sleep without harming your health?

Evaluation of data on the risk of developing multiple sclerosis

Analysis of data collected over years revealed a striking association: The risk of developing multiple sclerosis was 40 percent higher for people who reported getting less than seven hours of sleep per night between the ages of 15 and 19. The comparison group consisted of people who slept an average of seven to nine hours when they were young.

Those study participants who reported experiencing poor sleep as teens were actually 50% more likely to develop MS. Lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep during adolescence appears to increase the risk of developing MS later in life. Restful sleep for a sufficiently long time, which is necessary for adequate immune function, can be a protective factor against MS. ” Torbjörn Åkerstedt, as reported by the health portal “Healthline”.

At least nine hours of sleep protects against the risk of multiple sclerosis

Because, as the researchers also discovered, people who slept nine hours or more during their youth didn’t have an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis later on. Other risk factors such as smoking, obesity, infection with Epstein-Barr virus, and vitamin D deficiency were also taken into account in the results.

Poor sleep and short sleep is not the only risk factor for developing MS in adolescence. The study also notes that other studies have already shown that shift workers are more likely to develop multiple sclerosis due to their permanently disturbed sleep rhythm.

While it is still not clear what causes MS, this study found that getting good and sufficient sleep at least during adolescence can reduce the risk of developing MS.

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