Background The importance of sleep for overall health and wellbeing is well established, with independent effects from inadequate quantity as well as poor quality. The cumulative effect of different sleep problems on general health in young people is unknown. This longitudinal sutdy aimed to ascertain prospectively the associations between types and amounts of sleep behaviours and general health, and investigate potential gender differences.
Methods Longitudinal study of 3104 adolescent participants from the population-based BASUS prospective cohort study in British Columbia with repeated measures of sleep deprivation and sleep disturbances (2011 fall, 2012 spring, 2012 fall), and self-rated health (2011 fall, 2012 fall). Multivariable logistic regression models with sex interaction terms for each exposure estimated gender-specific associations between self-reported sleep deprivation, or sleep disturbance, and odds of non-optimal health.
Results We found no consistent association between cumulative sleep deprivation and overall health in either young women or young men. However, there was a monotonic association between cumulative sleep disturbance and overall health in both genders. Compared to young women with no history of sleep disturbance, young women reporting chronic sleep disturbance were over twice as likely to report non-optimal health (OR 2.18 [CI95 1.13, 4.22]). Similar and stronger results were found in young men (2.41 [1.05, 5.51]). Results were unchanged in sensitivity analyses and became stronger (and significant for sleep deprivation) in complete-case analyses.
Conclusion Findings suggest that the overall health of young people would benefit from interventions aimed at preventing and mitigating chronic exposure to sleep disturbance such as difficulty staying or falling asleep.
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