Insufficient Sleep Tied to Unsafe Behaviors in High School Students

MONDAY, Oct. 1, 2018 — For high school students, sleeping less than eight hours on an average school night is associated with increased odds of selected unsafe behaviors, according to a research letter published online Oct. 1 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Matthew D. Weaver, Ph.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used data from high school students who responded to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey during February 2007 to May 2015 to examine correlations between sleep duration and personal safety risk-taking behaviors. Data were included from 67,615 surveys from high school students.

The researchers found that 30.4 percent of students reported eight hours or more of sleep on an average school night. From 2007 to 2015, there was an increase in the proportion of students who reported less than eight hours of sleep on an average school night, from 68.9 to 71.9 percent. There was an association between shorter sleep duration and increased odds of risk-taking behaviors in a dose-dependent manner. The odds increased for all selected unsafe behaviors with fewer hours of sleep on an average school night, including risk taking while driving; use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs; risky sexual activity; and aggressive behaviors.

“We found significantly increased odds of reported unsafe behaviors among youths who reported insufficient sleep,” the authors write. “These behaviors are common precursors to accidents and suicides, which are the leading causes of death among teens.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries.

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Posted: October 2018

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