It’s not uncommon for teens to stay up late – finishing school assignments, talking or emailing with friends, being involved in social activities, or working a job.
A study published in Preventive Medicine reveals that more than two-thirds of U.S. teens report they’re getting less than eight hours sleep on school nights, and researchers say that lack of sufficient sleep is associated with risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, being sexually active, using marijuana, lower physical activity, and feeling sad or helpless.
“Insufficient sleep on school nights is common and is associated with participation in health risk behaviors including substance use, fighting, and consideration of suicide,” according to lead author Lela R. McKnight-Eily of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who explained that while previous research revealed the large sleep deficit experienced by many teens, this is the first research to associate sleep behaviors among teens with health risk behaviors.
The authors analyzed data from the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which gathered information from U.S. teens in grades 9-12 from all states and the District of Columbia. The survey is administered in both public and private schools every two years. This study included data from over 12,000 teen respondents who, for the first time, were asked questions about their sleep habits and duration.
Insufficient sleep was defined as less than eight hours of sleep. Students were asked “on an average school night, how many hours of sleep do you get?” Responses were divided into eight or more hours per night (sufficient sleep) or less than eight hours of sleep (insufficient sleep).