If parents need another reason to monitor their teens’ sleep habits, a study by medical researchers in Boston, New York and Madison, Wisconsin, gives them just that.
The study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics Oct. 1, found that teens who get less than six hours of sleep each night on average are more likely to engage in substance abuse and self-harm.
The team looked at data from more than 65,000 surveys on the amount of sleep high school students in the United States got each night. They found that 70% of students did not get the recommended minimum of eight hours a night.
They also discovered that those who slept six hours or less were two times as likely to report using alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, driving under the influence and engaging in risky sexual behaviors, according to an Oct. 3 Medical Daily article.
Perhaps even more alarmingly, teens who slept for less than six hours were more than three times more likely to consider or attempt suicide than those who slept at least eight hours.
The researchers explained that a lack of sleep could reduce activity in the part of the brain that controls executive function and logical reasoning. “Regions of the brain that are related to reward processing also are affected, potentially leading to more impulsive and emotionally driven decisions,” said lead author Matthew Weaver of Harvard Medical School in Boston.