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Sleep Patterns and Lack of Sleep May Contribute to Teen Substance Abuse

Teen substance abuse is a growing problem, and research studies on the sleep patterns of teens show that most adolescents get less sleep now than they did 20 years ago. A lack of quality sleep can interfere with good judgment and decision making that teens engage in on a daily basis, and the fact that this age group is catching fewer zzs than ever is alarming. The research study showed that the groups of adolescents who get the least sleep include students who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, females, and minorities. This is the first study that covers sleep patterns of teens by both age and time period. Many teens reported getting enough sleep, but when the actual time spent sleeping each week was examined these adolescents were actually coming up short.

When asked about the teen sleep patterns study, and the growing rate of teen substance abuse, Mailman School of Public Health epidemiology assistant professor Katherine W. Keyes, Ph.D., who was the lead study author, stated “This finding implies that minority and low socioeconomic status adolescents are less accurately judging the adequacy of the sleep they are getting.” The age group affected the most seemed to be 15 year olds, and this group showed the biggest decrease by percentage when compared to the same age group two decades ago. Keyes continued with “Although the underlying reasons for the decreases in hours of sleep are unknown, there has been speculation that increased Internet and social media use and pressures due to the heightened competitiveness of the college admissions process are adding to the problem. Declines in self-reported adolescent sleep across the last 20 years are concerning and suggest that there is potentially a significant public health concern that warrants health education and literacy approaches.”

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