According to new research published in the Journal Jama Pediatrics, kids who managed less sleep than their peers were likelier to engage in risk-taking behaviour such as using illicit substances and unprotected sexual activity as well as having depressive thoughts.
"Fewer hours of sleep on an average school night [is] associated with increased odds of all selected unsafe behaviours," write the authors.
In their investigation, scientists divided participants in several categories: eight hours or more, seven hours, six hours or less than six hours.
Results found that teens who slept less than six hours a night were three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, compared to young adults who slept eight or more hours a night. Meanwhile, they were also four times likely to have reported a suicide attempt that results in needing treatment.
Analysing data from the Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, over 8 years between 2007 and 2015, researchers found that 70 per cent of high school students weren't getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night.
"Prior reports have documented that high school students who slept less than eight hours were at increased risk of adverse self-behaviours" says Matthew Weaver from the Harvard Medical School and Associate epidemiologist in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
"Our study adds to this literature by using a larger updated data set over a longer study interval and by incorporating more granular sleep information and looking at a wider array of risk-taking behaviours."
However, authors are quick to note that because the behaviours are self-reported, there are limitations to the study.
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