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Sleep Deprivation Tied to Criminal Behavior in Adolescents

Update Date: Nov 22, 2013 11:03 AM EST

Studies have repeatedly reported that a lack of sleep can be extremely detrimental to one's physical and mental health. Sleep deprived people generally feel fatigue and have impaired cognitive abilities the following day or days. In a new report, researchers examined the relationship between sleep deprivation and criminal activity. The researchers reported that sleep deprivation is tied to criminal behavior due to lower self-control.

"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 lead author of the study, Ryan C. Meldrum said according to Medical Xpress. Meldrum is a criminal justice researcher and is a member of the American Society of Criminology and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

For this study, the researchers look at the data collected from a longitudinal, multi-city cohort study that followed 825 participants from birth to aged 15. Half of the sample was females with 59 percent of the adolescents belonging to two-parent families. 82 percent of them were non-Hispanic white. The researchers found that a lack of sleep contributed to low self-control, which was tied to an increase in delinquent activity.

"These findings are particularly instructive in their implications," Meldrum said. "Whereas some factors linked to low self-control and delinquency are largely immutable, the quantity and quality of sleep that adolescents get is something that parents are in an excellent position to influence."

The researchers stated that even though research is limited, it would not hurt to encourage parents to help their children by making sure they get a good night's rest everyday. The study was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

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