ATLANTA — Sleep-deprived teens are more likely to engage in risky behavior, including vehicle-related risks, than those who get enough rest, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The survey of more than 50,000 high school students found that those who got seven hours of sleep or less per night were more likely than their well-rested counterparts to engage in such behaviors as drinking and driving, texting while driving, riding with a driver who had been drinking and failing to use seatbelts.
Of the students involved in the study, 8.9 percent reported drinking and driving at least once in the past 30 days; 30.3 percent said they texted while driving during that same period; 26 percent reported riding with a driver who had been drinking; and 8.7 percent admitted to infrequent seatbelt use.
Noted the CDC: "Although insufficient sleep contributes to injury risk directly by slowing reaction time, impairing ability to pay attention, or causing a driver to fall asleep, this study provides evidence that some of the increased risk associated with insufficient sleep might be caused by engaging in injury-related risk behaviors."
So, teen drivers cannot only be impaired by drowsiness, but "insufficient sleep might cause persons to take more risks and disregard the possibility of negative consequences."
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adolescents 14-17 years of age get 8-10 hours of sleep per night. But of the CDC respondents, fully 68.8 percent said they sleep 7 or fewer hours per night.
Interestingly, the CDC study found that those teens who reported sleeping 10 hours or more per night (1.8 percent of respondents) were also likely to engage in many of the same risky behaviors as those who slept 7 hours or fewer.
To help maintain that 8-10-hour sweet spot, the CDC suggests that adolescents develop good sleep habits that include going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, minimizing light exposure in the evenings and keeping computers, cell phones, video games and other electronic devices out of the bedroom.
Edmunds says: Drowsy driving can be a problem for any driver, but this study shows that teens are particularly at risk when they don't get enough sleep.