A recent study conducted by researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that mental health problems, substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, and tobacco) and motor vehicle accidents are more likely to happen to teens that get less than six hours of shuteye per night. The study was conducted by examining a data sample of risky behaviors and the duration of sleep self-reported by teens in the last eight years. Researchers have found a link between risky behavior and length of high school students’ sleep.

It is a wide known fact that children need more sleep than adults. Adolescents require 8-10 hours of sleep at night for optimal health. However, research has shown that around 70% of teens get much less than 8 hours of sleep. Previous studies have shown that insufficient sleep in adolescents can lead to an impaired judgment which increases the risk of harmful health behaviors. In a new study carried out at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, researchers have found a link between sleep duration and risk-taking actions regarding personal safety. The results of the study were published in a JAMA Pediatrics research this month.

Since personal risk-taking behaviors are typical antecedents to accidents, scientists have concluded that lack of sleep has important implications for the health and safety of high school students all across the nation. Compared to students who get regular and sufficient shuteye, teens who sleep less than 6 hours a night are more likely to have issues with substance abuse or show aggressive behavior (such as fighting). The strongest associations were related to mood and self- harm, meaning that teens that sleep less than 6 hours are four times more prone to considering or attempting suicide.

The lead author of the study, Elizabeth Klerman, director at the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, claims lack of sleep in youth raises numerous public health concerns, starting from substance abuse to mental health issues and motor vehicle accidents. Since this population is particularly vulnerable to the consequences of insufficient sleep, every parent should focus on promoting healthy sleep habits and making sure their children get enough shut-eye each night.

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