A new study conducted by researchers from several universities states that teens who feel sleepy more often are more likely to have an antisocial behavior and to commit criminal offenses until the age of 29.
The research found that teens who felt drowsy during the afternoon had a higher chance to cheat, lie, steal, or fight. These antisocial behaviors can persist and even get worse by the time the teens get older. The study focused on 15-year-olds who might be committing crimes 14 years later.
The study was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. The lead authors were Adrian Raine, professor at the Department of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and Peter Venables, professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of York, UK.
The study involved 101 boys aged 15 and it looked for a link between sleepiness during daytime and a chance to commit crimes later in adulthood. The participants were asked to rate the degrees of sleepiness they felt during the day. Also, the researchers looked at the brain activity of the participants and at their response to certain stimuli.
The study extended for a longer period of years. The researchers asked for information from the teachers who had worked for at least four years with the participants to see if they exhibited any antisocial behaviors. Also, the Central Criminal Records Office granted the researchers access to their archives to see if the participants had had a criminal record by the age of 29.
The researchers excluded minor violations and focused only on violent crimes. They found that 17 percent of the participants were convicted of criminal offenses. Also, they found a connection between these crimes and sleepiness during teen years.
This is the first longitudinal study that shows the link between sleepiness in teenage years and a life of crimes in adulthood. Not all boys that experience drowsiness when they are teens are predisposed to become lawbreakers, but those who are both sleepy and antisocial are more likely to commit crimes later.
The researchers explained what exactly is the link between these two. Daytime sleepiness is associated with poor attention, which is linked to poor brain function. Those who have a poor brain function are more likely to become criminals.
The researchers advise that teens should get more sleep at night so that they can avoid feeling sleepy during the day and improve their behavior.
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