CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A study suggests teenagers who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and have suicidal thoughts.
The study, published in JAMA, shows a lack of sleep is associated with things such as drinking, doing drugs, engaging in unsafe sexual activity or aggressive behavior.
But the strongest association was with mood and suicidal thoughts.
The study found teenagers who slept less than six hours per night were three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
“There`s a definite correlation between the mental health crisis that some of our kids are facing, and sleep deprivation,” said Julie Reynolds, a licensed professional counselor in Centennial.
With school, sports and extracurricular activities, many kids are extremely busy.
But Reynolds says parents need to make sleep a priority for their kids, even though it can be tough.
“You want your kids to get into college. They need to have these extra-curricular activities, but at the same time sleep is so important,” she said.
“They need eight to 10 hours of sleep in order to function, and in order to have success at school and success at home.”
She says screen time and social media also chip away at sleep, so she suggests taking screens out of teenager’s bedrooms at night.
“You can’t expect, even your high school kiddos, to regulate themselves like that. They still need parental support and guidance,” Reynolds said.