According to a study, sleep deprived teenagers are more likely to develop drinking problems compared to the teenagers who regularly sleep well. Additionally researchers also discovered that a teenager’s sleep difficulties and hours of sleep can predict risky sex, drug use, and other unhealthy behaviors.
Dr. Maria M. Wong, a professor in the department of psychology at the Idaho State University and the lead author of the study, said, “Parents need to understand their children’s sleep schedule, patterns, and habits. If children have sleep difficulties or poor sleep hygiene, it is important for parents to talk to them and find out the factors that may be causing the problems.”
Wong and her colleagues analyzed the data that was collected through interviews and questionnaires from 6,504 adolescents participating in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Of those 6,504 adolescents, 52% were girls and 48% were boys. Data were collected for three waves: 1994-1995, 1996, and 2001-2002.
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that sleep difficulties during the first wave predicted binge drinking and use of illicit drugs during the second wave. First wave sleep difficulties also predicted other alcohol and drug problems during the second wave interviews. These included getting drunk, driving under the influence, alcohol-related interpersonal problems, and even drunken sexual encounters. The researchers found a similar link connecting fewer hours of sleep during the first wave and alcohol-related interpersonal problems and binge drinking during the second wave.
“Parents could explain the importance of sleep to their children, for example, how sleep may affect the development of the brain and thus self-control and behavior. Parents could also help their children keep a regular sleep schedule and monitor/control their children’s activities before sleep, for example, no video games or texting after a certain time at night,” added Wong.
The researchers now hope to conduct more studies to identify links between sleep deprivations and brain mechanism.