Tired Teens More Likely to Engage in Risky Behaviors

Health & Wellness on 09.29.11

If you're trying to keep your teens from some of those classic risky adolescent behaviors -- drinking, drugs, smoking -- then you might want to make sure they're getting enough sleep: A study in Preventative Medicine found that students who reported getting fewer than eight hours of sleep at night also had higher rates of risk-taking.

CNN's The Chart wrote about the study, which analyzed data gathered in 2007 from more than 12,000 high schoolers across the United States:

The researchers compared answers about sleep with answers about 11 health risk behaviors including drinking sodas with sugar, time spent exercising per week, TV watching time and non-school related computer use, cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use, being currently sexually active, feeling sad or hopeless, fighting, and whether they had considered suicide during the past year.

Less than eight hours of sleep was associated with 10 out of 11 health risk behaviors.

The only behavior not associated with reduced sleep was watching television. But while this was the biggest survey so far to link so many risky behaviors with teen sleep habits, the findings didn't surprise CNN Health sleep expert Dr. Lisa Shives: “Most people know that if they’re sleep deprived, they can’t make good decisions," she said. "Chronic, partial sleep deprivation affects our ability to think straight, make good decisions, and impacts our behavior.”

Lack of sleep has also been associated with poor school performance, bad moods, obesity, attention deficit disorder, and bullying. Experts have recommended keeping a consistent bedtime, turning off the television at least an hour before bed, and checking for sleep disorders like apnea or snoring.

More from CNN's The Chart.

Photo: cell105/Creative Commons


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