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Are teens who stay up late at higher risk for asthma?

By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 22 December 2020

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Research indicates that the symptoms of asthma, a chronic condition causing inflammation and narrowing of the airways, is associated with circadian rhythm. This implies that its symptoms get worse at night and in the early morning hours. There is also evidence which supports that sleeping late affects respiratory health. And now recent research has maintained that teenagers who sleep and rise late are at an increased risk for asthma. Hence, it is important to encourage children to maintain proper sleep environments to ensure good sleeping patterns. Right sleep timings help to prevent respiratory health issues to become a problem in the future.

Asthma and circadian rhythm

The connection between asthma manifestations and the circadian rhythm (body's 24-hour “internal clock”) has been established in the past. Studies have shown that the symptoms of asthma which worsen at night are accompanied by circadian variations that result in the inflammation of airways and physiological changes. These changes include the limitation in airflow and hyper-responsiveness of the airways. The effects of circadian rhythm on asthma are because of its role in controlling several genes expressed in the lungs involved in the processes related to asthma.

Sleeping late at night and the risk of asthma in teenagers

Teenagers, who stay up late in the night and rise late in the morning may be at a higher risk of asthma, as revealed in a recent study published by ERJ Open Research. The studies further indicate that these teenagers are three times more likely to have asthma compared to those who go early to bed. It is also reported that they are two times at a higher risk of developing allergic rhinitis.
Sleep and melatonin are known to influence the risk of asthma in teenagers. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the brain in response to darkness, and it helps maintain the circadian rhythm. An ideal sleep is the result of good melatonin cycles. However, teenagers who do not go to bed at the right time have disturbed melatonin cycles. Also, light emitted from the laptop, mobile phone, and television when used before bed impacts the production and function of melatonin.

How does sleeping late influence melatonin?

Symptoms of asthma are known to improve with the release of melatonin as it modulates the release of various inflammatory molecules and cells which are involved in the inflammatory processes of asthma. Seeping late disturbs or delays the melatonin rhythm affecting the protective function of melatonin.
An improper production and release of melatonin are also known to affect the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm regulates the Nrf2 (Nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2) expression associated with lung disorders. NRF2 is a protein that regulates the expression of antioxidant proteins that protect against the damage triggered by inflammation. The disruption in the regulation of Nrf2 is found to increase the susceptibility to inflammation in the airways and asthma.

Conclusion

Adequate sleep and proper sleep-wake cycles are important for everyone, including teenagers, to sustain good physical, mental, and respiratory health. Although more research is needed to conclude if sleeping late causes asthma, it was established that the variation in the production of melatonin could affect the hypersensitivity reactions in teenagers. Therefore, teenagers should be encouraged to ward off gadgets before sleep time and follow a regular sleep routine to lower their risk of asthma.
Consult a pulmonologist for any queries on respiratory health.

 

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