Teens who are sleep deprived are more likely to take part in dangerous behaviors like smoking cigarettes, drinking and drugs, driving dangerously on the roads and acts of violence, reveals a new study.
Adolescents need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, and over 570,000 teenagers who took part in 24 previous sleep related studies around the world showcased the negative consequences of falling short of recommended sleeping times.
An in depth analysis reviewed the association between sleep duration and risk taking in those studies, highlighting the direct link with risk taking behaviors.
Dr Short says parents have a role to play in ensuring their kids get the sleep they need. "If sleep loss results in more risky decisions, it can begin a self-perpetuating cycle with poor sleep leading to poor decision making about future sleep and so on."
The results suggest governments, schools and educational campaigns can change their approach towards minimizing risky behavior by suggesting teens get more rest, according to the research.
"If future research can garner stronger evidence that sleep plays a role in risk taking then intervention campaigns promoting road safety, drug and alcohol use, will profit from targeting sleep as a means of harm minimization or reduction. However both risk-taking and sleep duration are likely also impacted by third variables, such as family environment, or a lack of limits which are normally set by parents."
Previous research suggests not getting enough sleep during adolescence may make people more prone to emotional and behavioral disorders.
In one previous study included in this set of data, lack of sleep caused adolescents to shift their focus from worrying about potential losses, towards seeking more rewards at any cost. "The importance of sleep should be highlighted in future education campaigns because there is potential for simple interventions to have wide ranging benefits. "