High school students who do not get sufficient sleep at night have increased odds of sustaining injuries, often as a result of risky behavior.
In a study involving 50,370 high school students, epidemiologist Anne Wheaton, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and colleagues found that teens who had less than 7 hours of sleep on school nights had increased likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors such as riding with a drinking driver, not wearing a seatbelt and drinking and driving.
Sleep deprivation has long been known to increase injury risk by impairing a person's ability to pay attention, slowing reaction time and causing a driver to fall asleep, but the new study offers evidence that some of the elevated risks linked with lack of sleep can be attributed to injury-related risk behaviors.
"Although short and long sleep might simply be associated with other adolescent risk behaviors, insufficient sleep might cause persons to take more risks and disregard the possibility of negative consequences," the researchers reported on CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published on April 8.
The findings suggest that not getting sufficient sleep may put high school students at increased risks for unintentional injuries but getting too much sleep was also shown to have similarly dangerous repercussions.
Wheaton and colleagues found that teens who sleep for more than 10 hours at night were also more prone to engaging in risky behaviors and sustaining injuries compared with their counterparts who sleep for 9 hours.
UCLA Sleep Disorders Center director Dr. Alon Avidan explained that people who sleep too much may also be deprived of sleep because they often try to make up for lost sleep, which can be caused by a number of factors such as watching TV, playing video games and late-night computer use.
Avidan also noted that light exposure from TV and gadget screens, consuming too much caffeine, catching up sleep during weekends and napping during the day can wreak havoc to getting a restful sleep.
Kids rising early to be at school on time is also a factor in sleep problems among teens. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that schools delay their start times so teens can sleep in. The formal recommendation was partly based on evidence that show insufficient sleep contributes to academic and behavioral problems as well as increased obesity risk.