Parents have big role to play for teen sleep

RESEARCHERS have found teenagers who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to take part in dangerous behaviours like smoking cigarettes, consuming alcohol and drugs, driving dangerously on the road and acts of violence.
Adolescents need about eight to 10 hours of sleep per night, and more than 570,000 teenagers who took part in 24 sleep related studies around the world, showcased the negative consequences of falling short of recommended sleeping times.
An in-depth analysis reviewed the association between sleep duration and risk taking in those studies, highlighting the direct link with risk taking behaviours.
Lead author of the study from Flinders University in Adelaide, Dr Michelle Short, said parents have a role to play in ensuring their kids get the sleep they need.
“The results of our analysis indicate a meaningful relationship between sleep duration and risk-taking in adolescents,” Dr Short said.
“If sleep loss results in more risky decisions, it can begin a self-perpetuating cycle with poor sleep leading to poor decision making about future sleep and so on.”
The results suggest governments, schools and educational campaigns can change their approach towards minimising risky behaviour by suggesting teens get more rest.
“If future research can garner stronger evidence that sleep plays a role in risk taking, then intervention campaigns promoting road safety, drug and alcohol use, will profit from targeting sleep as a means of harm minimisation or reduction,” Dr Short said.
“However, both risk-taking and sleep durations are likely also impacted by third variables, such as family environment, or a lack of limits which are normally set by parents.”
Previous research suggests not getting enough sleep during adolescence may make people more prone to emotional and behavioural disorders.
One particular study included in this data, showed lack of sleep caused adolescents to shift their focus from worrying about potential losses, towards seeking more rewards at any cost.
“The importance of sleep should be highlighted in future education campaigns because there is potential for simple interventions to have wide ranging benefits,” Dr Short said.