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Teenagers who get less than six hours sleep are twice as likely to smoke, drink or take drugs

Teenagers who regularly get less than six hours sleep each night are twice as likely to smoke, drink or take drugs.

Researchers found youngsters who often stay up later and wake up earlier also face treble the risk of suicide.

Scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital sifted through data from thousands of teenagers to make the conclusion.

Youngsters are recommended to get at least eight hours kip and no more than 10 to give them the ideal amount of rest. 

Teens who get less than six hours sleep are twice as likely to smoke, drink or take drugs (stock)

‘Insufficient sleep in youth raises multiple public health concerns, including mental health, substance abuse and motor vehicle crashes,’ senior author Dr Elizabeth Klerman said.

Insomnia has also been linked over the years to impaired learning, development and decision making. 

The researchers analysed data from secondary-school students who took part in the Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys of February 2007 to May 2015.

The survey is carried out twice a year by 14-to-18 years olds in the US, who are asked how much sleep they get and about their risk-taking behaviours.

A total of 67,615 surveys were included in the analysis. The results were published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Dr Mathew Weaver, who led the research, and colleagues found only 30 per cent of students get the recommended eight hours of sleep or more on an average school night.


Children who eat fish just once a week have higher IQs and sleep better, research suggested in December 2017.

Consuming seafood at least once every seven days improves youngsters’ IQ scores by 4.8 points compared to those who never eat it, a study found.

Frequently eating fish also makes children less likely to wake in the night, be tired during the day and resist going to bed, the research adds.

Study author Professor Adrian Raine, from the University of Pennsylvania, said: ‘If fish improves sleep, great. If it also improves cognitive performance – like we’ve seen here – even better. It’s a double hit.’

Previous research reveals certain types of fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which play a role in the growth and development of nerve tissue and may therefore boost intelligence.

These fatty acids also play a role in the production of the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep and wakefulness.

The researchers analyzed 541 Chinese students aged 12 years old.

Fish consumption between the ages of nine and 11 was determined via a questionnaire that asked the children how often they eat fish in a typical month. The questionnaire did not specify types of fish.

The children’s sleep was measured by their parents completing a questionnaire that asked about the youngsters’ hours of sleep a night, resistance at bedtime, sleep anxiety, night-time waking and daytime tiredness.

Their IQ was investigated by assessing their arithmetic, vocabulary and understanding of information, as well as their ability to arrange images and sort codes.

The amount getting less than eight hours a night jumped by four per cent from 68.9 per cent in 2007 to 71.9 per cent in 2015.

Compared with those getting the recommended sleep, teens who had insufficient amounts of sleep were more likely to drink, smoke and take drugs.

The sleep-deprived youngsters were also more likely to drive dangerously and have ‘risky sexual’ and ‘aggressive’ behaviours. 

The biggest differences were seen in mood and mental health.

Teenagers who regularly got less than six hours sleep a night were three times more likely to consider or attempt suicide.

They were also four times more likely to attempt suicide that requires treatment. 

‘We found the odds of unsafe behavior by high school students increased significantly with fewer hours of sleep,’ Dr Weaver said.

‘Personal risk-taking behaviors are common precursors to accidents and suicides, which are the leading causes of death among teens and have important implications for the health and safety of high school students nationally.’ 

The researchers added further studies are required to determine the relationship between sleep and risky behaviours. 

In the meantime, the results should be used to encourage healthy sleep habits, they urged.

The NHS recommends people go to bed and wake at the same time every day, cut down on caffeine and ensure their bed is comfortable. 

This comes after research released earlier this year suggested getting less than eight hours sleep a night is linked to anxiety and depression.

Insomniacs are less able to overcome negative thoughts than those who get sufficient shut eye, according to the study by Binghamton University. 

And a study by the University of California, published in the journal Current Biology in 2015, suggested that people sleep too much in modern society.

They found members of the San tribe from Namibia, the Hadza of Tanzania and the Tsimane tribe from Bolivia slept on average just six hours and 25 minutes.

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