Why is it important for teens to get enough sleep?

A large-scale survey on teens and sleep has made a big splash in the news with its results: most teens are not getting enough sleep, and their lack of sufficient sleep is being associated with a whole series of risky, unhealthy behaviors, from smoking and drinking to sexual activity and overeating. This is a landmark study, the first of its size and scope to explore the connection between sleep and health problems in adolescents.

The results come from the 2007 National Youth Risk Behavior survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. This survey of more than 12,000 teenagers assessed a range of health-risk behaviors among adolescents. Regarding sleep, the survey asked teens: “On an average school night, how many hours of sleep do you get?” The responses were divided into two categories: eight hours or more per night was considered sufficient sleep, and fewer than eight hours was considered insufficient sleep.

More than two-thirds of teens surveyed -- 68.9% -- said they received fewer than eight hours of sleep on an average school night.

And if that’s not enough, here’s where things really get disturbing: Of the 11 health-risk behaviors that the survey examined, 10 of them were more likely to occur in teenagers who reported insufficient sleep during the school week.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.