Lack of sleep associated with risky, unhealthy teen behavior.

Lack of sleep associated with risky, unhealthy teen behavior.

Sleep is a vital part of human health, and the lack of sleep has been shown to be related to a variety of health issues and a general decrease in cognitive abilities. But sleep studies have generally focused on the effects in adults or young children.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston asked, what about teens?

Their study focused on data from a Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which evaluated the actions and attitudes of teens in high school and found an association between unsafe behaviors and not getting enough sleep at night.

High-schoolers who averaged less than six hours of sleep each night were more likely to use tobacco, engage in risky sexual activity or carry weapons.

They also were twice as likely to drink alcohol or use drugs compared with peers who got eight hours of more of sleep per night. And they were nearly twice as likely to report being in a fight and more than three times as likely to report considering or having attempted suicide.

These dangerous and concerning behaviors may be associated with how adolescent brains develop. Between eight and 10 hours of sleep is ideal, as anything less can result in impaired judgment and can negatively affect brain development and learning abilities.

Worse yet, the data showed that over 70 percent of high school teens surveyed reported averaging less than eight hours of sleep each night. This indicates the negative effects of lack of sleep could be widespread.

While getting teens to wake up for school can be an age-old a challenge, the research highlights that sometimes, hitting snooze can be a handy, and healthful, choice.

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