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Sleepy Teens Prone to Bad Behaviors, Study Finds

TUESDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Most teens don't get enough sleep, putting them at greater risk for a slew of unhealthy behaviors, from physical inactivity to fighting, according to a new U.S. study.

The study findings also showed that sleep-deprived teens were more likely to seriously consider attempting suicide, the researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

For the study, the investigators analyzed the results of a 2007 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey of high school students who were polled about their sleep habits. The survey found that nearly 70 percent of the teens were not getting the National Sleep Foundation's recommended eight or more hours of sleep on week nights.

The research also revealed that the students who said they got less than eight hours of sleep on school nights were more likely to engage in behaviors that put their health at risk, including:

  • Drinking non-diet soda at least once a day.
  • Being sedentary or not getting 60 minutes of physical activity on at least five of the past seven days.
  • Spending three or more hours each day in front of the computer.
  • Getting in at least one physical fight.
  • Engaging in substance use, such as drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes or marijuana.
  • Having sex.
  • Feeling sad or hopeless.
  • Seriously contemplating suicide.

The survey showed there was no association between lack of sleep and watching three or more hours of television daily among the teens.

"Many adolescents are not getting the recommended hours of sleep they need on school nights. Insufficient sleep is associated with participation in a number of health-risk behaviors including substance use, physical fighting and serious consideration of suicide attempt," Lela McKnight-Eily, of the CDC's division of adult and community health, said in an agency news release.

"Public health intervention is greatly needed, and the consideration of delayed school start times may hold promise as one effective step in a comprehensive approach to address this problem," McKnight-Eily added.

The research was released online in advance of print publication in the journal Preventive Medicine.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation provides more information on teens and sleep.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Sept. 26, 2011

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