Study: Less Sleep Results In Riskier Tendencies In Teens

Isabella (Isa) Searle and Lydia Ellis

A recent study by the Youth Risk Behavior Society showed that teens who get less sleep are more prone to unsafe behaviors such as drinking, drug use, aggressive behaviors and self harm.

When compared with teens who slept over 8 hours a night, teens who slept under 6 hours were three times more likely to consider suicide or attempt it.

“In one study by researchers at Columbia University, teens who went to bed at 10 p.m. or earlier were less likely to suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts than those who regularly stayed awake well after midnight,” said David K. Randall, author from the Youth Risk Behavior Society.

The study proves that teens with less amount of sleep are more likely to: take risks while driving, use tobacco, partake in risky sexual behavior and carry a weapon.

“The lack of sleep affects the teenage brain in similar ways to the adult brain, only more so. Chronic sleep deprivation in adolescents diminishes the brain’s ability to learn new information, and can lead to emotional issues like depression and aggression,” said Randall.

A lack of sleep can negatively affect judgment and development.

“I think getting less sleep negatively impacts the way you act and think because when you’re overly tired, you don’t think everything through properly and are more likely to make poor decisions,” said Freshman Olivia Lynch.

Some schools proposed the idea of starting school later in order for teens to get the right amount of sleep and to be successful the next day. One school tried this method out, and the results were extremely prosperous.

“Despite the fears of some parents, teenagers did in fact spend their extra hour sleeping, and reported that they came to school feeling rested and alert. At the same time, the number of on-campus fights fell, fewer students reported feeling depressed to their counselors, and the dropout rate slowed. Coaches pushed back practice times until later in the afternoon, and participation didn’t suffer,” Randall said.

We asked Rio students if they think we should start school later in order for students to get the sufficient amount of sleep and here is what they said.

“I think that school should start later because then everyone won’t be tired and it could be beneficial to a lot of students and their grades” said Freshman, Ceci Waldmire.

When other schools resorted to this method, their results flourished as well.

“Like their suburban counterparts, Minneapolis students’ grades improved, their drop-out rates fell, and they attended first-period classes more regularly,” said Randall.

Many researchers have suggested that what many seem to write off as “normal teenage behavior” is not necessarily what comes with being a teen and could be caused from severe sleep deprivation.

“What if the behavior we casually dismiss as ‘“teenage angst’” — the moodiness, the constant battles, the sleeping all day, the reckless, impulsive and careless behavior — is not in fact a normal part of being a teen? Or at least, not to the degree we assume it is. What if instead we are doing our teenagers a disservice by writing off as “normal” what are in reality the symptoms of chronic and severe sleep deprivation?” said researcher Juliann Garey.

Research has concluded, sleep deprivation in teens is not a normal part of growing up. The symptoms and consequences have concrete effects on even the strongest kids and potentially devastating ones on those who have mood disorders like depression.