Wellness

Poor Sleep Linked With Delinquency In Teens

11/25/2013 08:16am ET
sad teenager portrait close up

Sleep deprivation could increase the likelihood that a teen will engage in delinquent behaviors because of its effects on self control, a new study suggests.

Researchers from Florida International University found an association between sleep deprivation and low self-control, as well as an association between low self-control and delinquency.

"The harmful implications of sleep deprivation is a largely under-studied area in criminal justice," study researcher Ryan C. Meldrum, a criminal justice researcher at the university, said in a statement. "Sleep offers us the opportunity for recuperation and restoration, which is especially important for developmental processes in children and adolescents. But even though sleep occupies roughly a third of our time, we are only now beginning to understand its function and the role it plays in antisocial behavior."

The new findings were recently published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, and based on data from 825 teens who were followed from birth to age 15. Of those teens, half were female, 82 percent were non-Hispanic white, and 59 percent came from a two-parent family.

Researchers took into account other potential factors that could influence delinquency, such as neighborhood context, parenting practices, depressive symptoms and socialization with peers, and found that sleep deprived teens had a higher risk of having low-self control, and that "low self-control is positive related to delinquency."

HuffPost blogger Christopher M. Barnes, who is an assistant professor of management at the University of Washington, recently wrote about how sleep has been shown in other studies to have an impact impulsive behaviors. He wrote:

My research shows that sleep on a given night predicts unethical behavior the next day, through the causal mechanism of self-control. A colleague of mine found that losing as little as two hours of sleep (sleeping six hours instead of eight) lead to deviant behavior at work the next day, again because of the effects of sleep on self-control.

Sleep Deprivation Can...