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Bad Sleep Linked to Risky Behaviors in Young People

Update Date: Nov 13, 2013 03:33 PM EST

Not getting enough sleep may lead to risky behavior in young adults, according to researchers.

Experts are urging young people to take a nap or sleep in when the party dies down. Previous studies revealed that sleep deprived people are significantly more like to take part in risky activities like have unprotected sex, drive drunk and take drugs.

"The study found that when young people had three to four hours less sleep than usual, they had slower reaction times, were moodier and more impulsive," Kalina Rossa, a sleep researcher with Queensland University of Technology Center for Accident Research & Road Safety, said in a news release.

"If you put that into a Schoolies' context where young people who are going to be sleep-deprived as well as possibly under influence of alcohol - it is really a double whammy - the risks are even higher," Rossa said.

Rossa added that students who want to stay safe should sleep in and take regular naps. However, she said the most important thing is to have a party plan and to pay attention to surroundings.

"We don't want to see people injured or killed because they have been reckless," she said.

Researchers said that young people are particularly vulnerable to sleep deprivation because the decision making part of the brain does not fully develop until the age of 25.

"What this means is that the part of the brain that is responsible for problem solving and impulse control - changes when we haven't gotten enough sleep, and because young people are still developing in this area, a lack of sleep may cause them to make poor choices," Rossa said.

"This study found that when tired, young people make risky decisions which are likely to be reflected in the real world. That is the real concern," she said.

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