It seems we are getting close to expanded nap time to include adolescents and adults. Hey, a guy can hope at least. Another study is pointing towards poor sleep habits and risky behavior among teens. Researchers compared the habits of those who slept soundly with their peers who did not get enough sleep.

The key takeaway? Getting a good night’s sleep is not only good for your health, it leads to better judgement.

Writing in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers analyzed survey data from more than 6,500 adolescents across the United States. The nationwide survey occurred in three waves between 1994 and 2002. Sleep patterns, drug use and alcohol use were all surveyed.

Participants who slept badly were most likely to have drug and alcohol problems, but scientists wanted to establish a firmer link beyond correlation.

The team found that those adolescents who reported trouble going to sleep at least once a week were more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, binge drink or take illicit drugs.

As the sleeping woes progressed, so did the risky behavior. A teenager that reported trouble going to sleep every day were 33% more likely to engage in the above behaviors. The fewer hours they slept had a link with if a teenager would experience issues related to alcohol abuse or drug abuse.

What about teens that stacked extra sleep? Each additional hour afforded some level of protection in the odds of the adolescent engaging in behavior such as binge drinking. Now when a kid wants to sleep on Saturday, they can just point their parents in the direction of science.

Professor Maria Wong, from Idaho State University, led the team of researchers on the study. “Most of the time we don’t think sleep is important. But our results show sleep is a good marker of some serious later problems.

“A lot of parents don’t monitor their adolescents’ sleep schedules and let them make their own decisions about when to go to bed.

“But parents need to start talking to their teenagers, not just about grades and extracurricular activities but about sleep too. And they must get help if needed.”

What are some quick fixes to a teen’s sleeping woes? Put down the electronics. Those late night text marathons need to stop due to the blue light interrupting sleep patterns.

Two? Parents need to become more involved. Make sure your kid is getting sleep. I’m pretty sure a teenager wouldn’t mind a mandated ‘sleep as much as you want’ Saturday. I’m an adult and I sure don’t mind it.

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