Risky Behavior in Teens Linked With Lack of Sleep

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Risky Behavior in Teens Linked With Lack of Sleep

Teens often has a lot of tasks to do such as academic and extra-curricular activities which is why in order to finish all the tasks, they tend to stay up late. / Photo by: Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock


Teenage years are a busy time for everyone. Teens have a lot to handle since they are still going to school, and they have to juggle their time between their academic responsibilities, extra-curricular activities, and their responsibilities on their families and friends. A day is not enough for them to accomplish all their task which is why, sometimes they have to stay late at night to finish their homework, projects or presentations that are due on the other day. No one can invalidate their efforts as they try to accomplish all their tasks just to meet their deadlines. However, not all teenagers are staying up late just to finish their school works, there are also teenagers who are being nocturnal just to play games or talk with their peers as they share some juicy news.


A website called Better Health mentioned that a research about sleep suggested that a teenager needs to have an average eight and 10 hours of sleep every night. Not having a regular and enough sleep could lead to chronic sleep deprivation, and this could result to a dramatic change on a teenager’s life which could have an impact on their mental wellbeing and might increase the risk of having depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. There might also be a radical change that could happen in adolescence, which includes tremendous hormonal shifts and significant brain development that affects teenage behavior. Sleep deprivation will put teenagers into a kind of perpetual cloud or haze. “One of the metaphors I use is that it’s like having astigmatism. You don’t realize how bad your vision is until you get glasses or in this case, good sleep.” said Dr. Mary Carskadon, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University and director of chronobiology and sleep research at Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island.


The Causes of Sleep Deprivation in Teens

There are many reasons why teenagers experiences sleep deprivation. According to American College of Neuropsychopharmacology made a research about the lack of sleep in teenagers and it suggests that chronic sleep deprivation which can involve staying up late, and waking up early for work or school has become a way of life for both kids and adults, especially with the increasing use of phones and tablets late into the night. CTV News noted on their website that the C.S Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan conducted a survey with 1,018 parents who have at least one child age 13 to 18 years old, and the survey resulted that nearly half of the parents reported that their children are having problems in sleeping or wakes up in the night and struggles to get back to sleep.

According to the parents who were surveyed, the number one reason for sleep deprivation is because of the disturbances from using electronic devices including social media. Because of the emergence of the latest social media application that keeps most of the teenagers interested, they are being distracted and they wouldn’t notice the time and they’ll be deprived of sleep. Many parents added that they also tried a number of strategies to improve their children’s habit of sleeping which includes, turning off electronics and cell phones at bedtime and natural or herbal remedies.

“Parents whose teens continue to have frequent sleep problems, despite following recommendations for healthy sleep hygiene, may want to talk with a health care provider, particularly when considering which type of medication to try,” says poll co-director Sarah Clark M.P.H. She also added that inadequate sleep could have a long-lasting health effect which could affect the mood and irritability for teens.


One of the causes of sleep deprivation was excessive use of smartphones until late at night. / Photo by: kryzhov via Shutterstock


Effects of Sleep Deprivation

“Fewer hours of sleep on an average school night [is] associated with increased odds of all selected unsafe behaviors,” researchers from Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital said. The authors also added that teenagers are at risk of taking a risk while they are driving, unsafe sexual activity, aggressive behavior and use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Moreover, the researchers found out that the strongest associations in relation to mood and self-harm, while teens who slept for less than six hours per night were more likely to report considering suicide compared with teens who slept eight hours or more.


Researchers found out that teens who are more likely to engage in suicide are the ones who have less than 6 hours of sleep. / Photo by: ArtWithTammy via Pixabay

“Insufficient sleep in youth raises multiple public health concerns, including mental health, substance abuse, and motor vehicle crashes,” said senior author Elizabeth Klerman, MD, Ph.D., director of the Analytic Modeling Unit, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In an article by Neuroscience News, she also added that there are more researches that the experts need to do just to identify the specific connection between sleep and personal safety risk-taking behaviors.

In an article published by CNN on their online website, Reut Gruber, director of the Attention, Behavior and Sleep Laboratory at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University advises parents that they should monitor their child’s sleep schedule since teenagers are not always capable of managing their own sleep schedule.





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