Background: Amount of sleep is an important indicator of health and well-being in children and adolescents. Adequate sleep (AS: adequate sleep is defined as 6-8 hours per night regularly) is a critical factor in adolescent health and health-related behaviors. The present study was based on a health promotion project previously conducted on adolescents in Tao-Yuan County, Taiwan. The aim was to examine the relationship between AS during schooldays and excessive body weight, frequency of visiting doctors and health-related behaviors among Taiwanese adolescents.
Methods: A cross-sectional study design, categorical and multivariate data analyses were used. The hypotheses investigated were: high frequency of AS is positively associated with lack of obesity and less frequent visits to doctors; and high frequency AS is positively associated with health-related behavior.
Results: A total of 656 boys (53.2%) and girls (46.8%), ranging in age from 13-18 years were studied between January and June 2004. Three hundred and fifty seven subjects (54%) reported that they slept less than the suggested 6-8 hours on schooldays. A significant negative association was found between low sleep and of the following health-related behaviors: (1) life appreciation; (2) taking responsibility for health; (3) adopting healthy diet; (4) effective stress management; (5) regular exercise; and (6) total AHP score. High frequency AS was associated with low frequencies of obesity after potential confounding factors were controlled. Junior high school adolescents reported significantly higher frequencies of AS than high school participants. Gender, family structure, home location and frequency of television watching or computer use were not significantly associated with AS.
Conclusion: These findings support the proposition that AS is associated with good health status and high-frequency adoption of health-related behavior. Furthermore, these findings suggest that inadequate sleep may be a screening indicator for an unhealthy lifestyle and poor health status. The results might be useful for future research into the development of intervention strategies to assist adolescents who are not receiving enough hours of sleep.