Study: Teens need more sleep to avoid risky behaviors

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez |

((FILE) REUTERS/Jim Young)Chicago, Illinois, teens take part in a special program promoting opera, October 22, 2014.

HOUSTON (Christian Examiner) -- Research has long shown that sleep impacts alcohol and drug use in adolescents and young adults. A new study now indicates the more hours youth sleep, the better they behave and the better decisions they make over all.

Earlier this month a group of researchers from Idaho State University led by Maria Wong released an online version of their article set to be included in an upcoming issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

In an effort to gain more insight and drill down previous findings correlating sleep patterns to alcohol-related problems and illicit drug use, the study's scholars analyzed interviews and questionnaires completed by 6,504 adolescents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Researchers explored three waves of data spanning from 1994 to 2002 to see how poor sleep could predict problems like binge drinking, driving under the influence of alcohol, and sexual behavior.

According to News Ledge, findings revealed that adolescents who reported trouble going to sleep at least once a week were more likely to engage in troublesome conduct. Additionally, those who reported trouble going to sleep more often were more likely to use bad judgment regarding sex, drugs and alcohol. Young people who daily had trouble sleeping were 33 percent more likely to engage in risky habits.

The Science Recorder also reported on the study and highlighted the contrasting outcome between healthy sleep habits and harmful sleep patterns According to the publication, each additional hour of sleep acted as a safeguard of sorts against drinking and substance abuse.

Ultimately, the study's authors concluded sleep difficulties and hours of sleep are significant predictors of a number of substance-related problems adolescents experience.

"It may be useful to educate adolescents about the importance of sleep, sleep hygiene, and the potential consequences of poor sleep on drinking and related behaviors," Wong told the News Ledge. "parents need to start talking to their teenagers, not just about grades and extracurricular activities but about sleep too. And they must get help if needed."

The research for this study was funded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.