Tired teens at risk for drinking and driving

Photo by junpinzon/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by junpinzon/iStock / Getty Images

Teens who don't get enough sleep (less than 7 hours) are at risk for engaging in risky behaviors including driving with someone drunk and drinking and driving, according to a recently released CDC survey. Here's what they found:

"Insufficient sleep is common among high school students and is associated with an increased risk for unintentional injury from drowsy driving crashes and other causes.

Students who reported sleeping ≤7 hours on school nights were more likely to report several injury-related risk behaviors (infrequent bicycle helmet use, infrequent seatbelt use, riding with a driver who had been drinking, drinking and driving, and texting while driving) compared with students who sleep 9 hours."

The National Sleep Foundation recommends teens 14–17 years should get 8–10 hours of sleep per night.

The CDC report gives some tips to help teens create good sleep habits:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day both during the school week and weekends
  • Minimize light exposure in the evenings, and keep computers and other electronic devices, such asvideo games, and cell phones, out of the bedroom.
  •  To help ensure that adolescents get adequate sleep, they can practice good sleep hygiene (i.e., habits that promote good sleep).
  •  Parents can help by setting bedtimes and limiting when (only before a set time or “media curfew”) and where (not in their bedrooms) their teenagers can use electronic devices. Early school start times contribute to insufficient sleep among adolescents.

Wheaton AG, Olsen EO, Miller GF, Croft JB. Sleep Duration and Injury-Related Risk Behaviors Among High School Students — United States, 2007–2013. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:337–341. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6513a1

Delaney Ruston, MD