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Want law-abiding kids? Get them sleeping more

29-04-2014

Want law-abiding kids? Get them sleeping more

Do you want your children to grow into law abiding adults? Of course you do. You want the best for your children. A new study has found that lack of sleep can actually contribute to delinquent behaviour in teens and young adults. All that time you have spent trying to get your teenager out of bed may well be contributed to their misbehaving. It turns out that if children do not get their required amount each night their behaviour may suffer.

Introduction
Teenagers and sleep. It is impossible to get them to go to bed at night and just as impossible to get them up in the morning. There is something about teens and sleep, they seem to need more than adults, and as the research has shown, they really do. Not only do they need sleep for all the long term aspects of growing body, including both mental and physical development, but they also need sleep to help with their general behaviour.

Sleep for a law abiding life
What is very concerning about the findings, which were published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, is that the effects of lack of sleep appear to impact the sleep deprived teens long into their adulthood. Scientists have long thought that personal self-control is a trait that is developed during the first years of life and is an outcome of both genetics, socialisation and environmental factors. The new study sought to understand how sleep impacted on self-control and found that there was a strong connection.

The findings
The findings were quite shocking, they found that sleep deprivation reduces the self control of individuals into their late adolescents and early adult life. The study found that teenagers who do not get a good night’s sleep most nights will struggle to regulate their behaviour. The consequences of sleep deprivation can also last after the adolescents and into their adulthood depending on when their sleep returns to normal levels.

The study
The study looked at 800 teens and evaluated their behaviour and sleep patterns. Author of the study Ryan C. Meldrum wrote that “The harmful implications of sleep deprivation is a largely under-studied area in criminal justice,” going on to state that “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 take home
The study’s authors admit that their findings are not a smoking gun but that they do indicate that there is a strong connection between sleep and delinquent behaviour. Meldrum believes that further research will prove the connection and warns parents that they need to monitor their teen’s sleeping habits to ensure that they are getting enough sleep every night. 


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