Puberty, that mysterious time when a myriad of changes occur in the body, may be affected by how much sleep the adolescent is receiving.
In a small new study, adolescents ages 10 to 15 were examined while they slept for increases in luteinizing hormone, which triggers ovulation in females and stimulates the production of testosterone in males. The study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that a surge of this hormone happens during during slow-wave sleep, or deep sleep. This slow-wave sleep is the type during which it’s very hard to wake the sleeper.
The participants spent a night sleeping in a laboratory, and blood samples were collected through a catheter every 10 minutes. The blood samples were analyzed for levels of luteinizing hormone.
Participants experienced an average of four to six surges of luteinizing hormone during the night. Fifty-two percent of these surges began during deep sleep, the researchers said.
The scientists said that since this is a very small study, more work is needed to solidify their results.