FEBRUARY 13, 2020 — Could the amount of sleep teenagers get each night determine if they would carry a gun? A new study by researchers from UTSA and Florida International University has found that not getting enough sleep increases the likelihood of teens carrying a handgun.
Using a survey of more than 42,000 middle school and high school students in Florida, Dylan Jackson and Alexander Testa, assistant professors in UTSA’s College for Health, Community and Policy, collaborated with Florida International University researchers Ryan Charles Meldrum and Kristen Zgoba to study whether sleep duration is associated with adolescent handgun carrying behaviors.
“Research shows that a large portion of adolescents do not get enough sleep and this lack of sleep presents serious consequences for their health, psychological well-being and willingness to engage in risky behaviors,” said Jackson.
In addition, sleep deprivation has been linked to a variety of risk-taking behaviors, such as drinking and driving and involvement in delinquency. The researchers found out that getting less than four hours of sleep a night leads to a 40% increase in the likelihood of teens carrying a handgun in general and an 85% increase in the odds of taking a handgun to school.
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“The findings of our study suggest that a lack of sleep may impair decision making and increase the propensity of youths to engage in the risky behavior of carrying a handgun,” said Testa. “Given that gun violence, especially among youth, is a significant public health issue, the results of our findings suggest that efforts to improve the sleep of adolescents can provide substantial benefits for safety and overall well-being.”
The findings were published in Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.
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