Fondazione per l'Avanzamento delle Ricerche in Medicina Molecolare - ONLUS

Get them some sleep, scientists say of young delinquents

asleepJuvenile delinquency among high school students may be partly linked to lack of sleep, researchers have found based on a new study.
Although a handful of past studies have suggested such a link could exist, little detailed information exists. The new analysis found that more serious forms of delinquency appear to become more common in relation to the severity of youngsters’ sleep deficit.


Ju­ve­nile de­lin­quen­cy among high school stu­dents may be partly linked to lack of sleep, re­search­ers have found based on a new stu­dy. (Pho­to cour­tesy Ve­ra Krat­och­vil)
The study re-examined 15-year-old da­ta from the Na­tional Lon­gi­tu­di­nal Study of Ad­o­les­cent Health, a fed­er­ally funded pro­ject that sur­veyed ad­o­les­cent health in the Un­ited States in rela­t­ion to a va­ri­e­ty of risky be­hav­iors.
The sur­vey sam­ple used for the study on sleep and de­lin­quen­cy en­com­passed 14,382 high school stu­dents—half ma­le, half fema­le, 63.5 pe­r­cent white.
Stu­dents who slept sev­en or few­er hours nightly re­ported “sig­nif­i­cantly more prop­er­ty de­lin­quen­cy,” such as van­dal­ism or theft, than stu­dents who slept the rec­om­mended eight to 10 hours, the au­thors of the new study re­ported. The findings ap­pear in the Oct. 10 is­sue of the Jour­nal of Youth and Ad­o­les­cence.
Those who slept five or few­er hours per night, meanwhile, “re­ported sig­nif­i­cantly more vi­o­lent de­lin­quen­cy,” wrote the re­search­ers, Sa­man­tha Clink­in­beard and col­leagues at the Uni­vers­ity of Ne­bras­ka at Oma­ha.
“Lack of sleep has been linked to a wide range of neg­a­tive de­vel­op­men­tal out­comes,” but “largely over­looked among re­search­ers in­ter­est­ed in ad­o­les­cent de­lin­quen­cy,” the group wrote.
Al­though the study could­n’t demonstrate that in­suffi­cient snooz­ing caused de­lin­quen­cy rath­er than, for ex­am­ple, the oth­er way around, “the find­ings sug­gest that sleep is an im­por­tant, and over­looked, di­men­sion of de­lin­quent be­hav­ior,” the re­search­ers wrote. They ar­gued that this as­pect de­serves fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­t­ion.
The study did­n’t de­ter­mine wheth­er in­som­nia, home en­vi­ron­ment or oth­er fac­tors caused the sleep short­age pos­sibly linked to de­lin­quen­cy. But a smaller stu­dy, pub­lished in last De­cem­ber’s is­sue of the Jour­nal of Ge­net­ic Psy­chol­o­gy, found that “pos­sible in­som­ni­a” pre­dicted smok­ing, de­lin­quen­cy and drinking-and-driving among high school­ers.
“Sleep and oth­er rel­e­vant health be­hav­iors [should] be con­sid­ered in the con­text of more com­pre­hen­sive ap­proaches to de­lin­quen­cy pre­ven­tion and in­ter­ven­tion,” Clink­in­beard and col­leagues wrote.