This site is intended for health professionals only

Poor sleep impacts on decision making in teens

Poor sleeping patterns in teenagers could be an early warning sign for alcohol problems and drug use suggests research.

Scientists in the US have advised that parents should pay closer attention to teenagers' sleeping schedule as those with bad habits were more likely to engage in risky behavior later on in life.

Writing in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, scientists analysed data from more than 6,500 adolescents in the United States.

The worse the sleep problem, the stronger the link seemed to be. Those who found it difficult to fall asleep almost every day were 33% more likely to experience these issues than teenagers who found it easy to drift-off.

Independent sleep researcher Dr Neil Stanley, said: "Even without a medical condition such as insomnia, many teenagers get less sleep than they need each night just because life - computers etc - getting in the way.

"But this study builds on previous research that shows a lack of sleep can seriously impair judgement.

"And this is particularly important for adolescents who are more prone to risk taking and willing to experiments with alcohol and drugs."