Insufficient Sleep in Adolescence May Be A Driver of Risky Behaviors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Matthew D. Weaver, PhD Instructor in Medicine · Harvard Medical School Associate Epidemiologist · Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA 02215

Dr. Weaver

Matthew D. Weaver, PhD
Instructor in Medicine · Harvard Medical School
Associate Epidemiologist · Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Boston, MA 02215

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We were interested whether high school students who tended to sleep less than 8 hours per night reported more risk-taking behaviors compared to high school students who slept at least 8 hours per night on a school night. We utilized a nationally representative dataset from the CDC of surveys that were completed by high school students between 2007 and 2015. Over that time, approximately 67,000 students were surveyed. Students were asked about the hours of sleep that they obtained on an average school night. They were also asked how often, in the month prior to the survey, they engaged in a number of risk-taking behaviors. Some behaviors were related to driving, like driving without a seatbelt or driving drunk, while others were related to using alcohol, doing drugs, or being involved in a fight. They were also asked about their mood, including whether they felt sad or hopeless, considered suicide, and whether they had attempted suicide. 

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Neurobiology May Explain Why Some Teenage Drivers Take More Risks

Dr. Marie Claude Ouimet, Ph.D. Assistant Professor/ Professeure adjointe University of Sherbrooke/ Université de Sherbrooke Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences/ Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé Longueuil, QC, Canada, J4K 0A8MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Marie Claude Ouimet, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor/ Professeure adjointe
University of Sherbrooke/ Université de Sherbrooke
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences/ Faculté de médecine et des sciences de la santé
Longueuil, QC, Canada, J4K 0A8

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Ouimet :The goal of our study was to examine if teenagers’ driving risk was associated with a neurobiological factor. Driving was continuously observed with cameras and sensors installed in the vehicles of teenagers during their first 18 months of licensure. Cortisol response was measured within the first weeks of licensing. Our study showed two main findings:

1) Higher cortisol response to a stressful event was associated with lower crash and near crash rates over the study period;

2) Higher cortisol response was also linked to a sharper decrease in crash and near crash rates over time.

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