Sleep-Deprived Teens More Likely to Become Antisocial Adults

There’s a link between a lack of sleep and antisocial behavior

Teens who reported feeling drowsy during the day were 4.5 times more likely to commit violent crimes in adulthood, according to a new study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. The researchers also report that drowsiness and antisocial behavior are closely linked.

After analyzing data from 101 15-year old boys in England — self-reported drowsiness in the afternoon, social behavior, and criminal records from 14 years later — the researchers found that teens with sleepiness and a history of antisocial behavior were more likely to have serious violations of the law as adults.

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Of course not all sleepy teens become criminals — they’re teenagers after all, a group that seems to be tired much of the time. But the researchers recommend that children with behavioral problems get more shut eye, suggesting that it could help improve brain function and decision making and lead to better choices.

“That could make a difference not just for antisocial behavior at school with these teenage kids but more importantly, with later serious criminal behavior,” lead study author Adrian Raine, the Richard Perry University Professor with appointments in the departments of Criminology and Psychology in the School of Arts & Sciences and the Department of Psychiatry in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine said in a press release. “More sleep won’t solve crime, but it might make a bit of a dent.”

Read more in the study’s press release.