June 7, 2016

Insufficient Sleep Increases Risky Behavior in Teens

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that high school students who slept less than seven hours on school nights were more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as texting and driving, drinking and driving, riding with a driver who was drinking, not wearing a seat belt, and not wearing a helmet when riding a bike.  Researchers concluded that sleep deprivation may play an important role in poor judgment and decision-making among teenagers.

A 2011 study, also by the CDC, found that teens who slept less than eight hours a night were more likely to, among other things, use cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana; not get enough exercise; feel sad or hopeless; and attempt suicide.  The study found that almost 70% of teens were not getting enough sleep. 

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adolescents ages 14 to 17 sleep eight to 10 hours per night and suggests the following to promote good sleep:
  1. Do not take naps that are too long or too close to bedtime.
  2. Do not consume caffeine close to bedtime.
  3. Keep bedrooms cool, quiet, and dark (but let in bright light in the morning to signal your body to wake up).
  4. Establish a bed- and wake-time cycle and stick to it (even on the weekends).
  5. Do not eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of bedtime.