Thirdhand Smoke Exposure Impacts Teens’ Sleep

Sleep is an important aspect of teens’ health, and a recent study found that thirdhand smoke exposure can affect how much sleep teens get. Dr. Ashley Merianos at the University of Cincinnati, who led the study, analyzed responses from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between the years 2013 and 2018. The team was looking to see how thirdhand smoke exposure impacts teens’ sleep. They evaluated the sleep data of 16- to 19-year-olds based on three categories: no exposure, self-reported thirdhand smoke exposure only, and self-reported both second- and thirdhand smoke exposure. No exposure means the teen lives in a home where others who live there never smoke inside or outside of the home. Thirdhand smoke exposure means the teen lives in a home where others who live there smoke outside of the home, and second- and thirdhand smoke exposure means the teen lives in a home where others smoke inside of the home. The team also looked at the teens’ levels of cotinine, a chemical indicator of exposure to tobacco smoke.

on a starry background, an image of a girl sleeping, a boy who is tired, and another boy sleep through an alarm

Merianos found surprisingly conflicting results. First, teens with reported thirdhand smoke or second- and thirdhand smoke exposures were more likely to have insufficient or not enough sleep. However, teens with higher cotinine levels, which suggests a higher recent exposure to tobacco smoke, were more likely to have excess or too much sleep. Together, these findings suggest that any level of exposure to tobacco smoke, whether it be immediately before going to bed or from longer term contamination within homes, will interfere with the sleep pattern of teens.  Ensuring that environments are clear of all toxic tobacco pollutants can help promote sleep for teens.

Click here to read the research study.

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