Most High School Students Are Sleep Deprived

Release Date: January 5, 2010 | By Sylviane Duval, Contributing Writer
Research Source:

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Only about 8 percent of high school students get enough sleep on an average school night, a large new study finds. The others are living with borderline-to-serious sleep deficits that could lead to daytime drowsiness, depression, headaches and poor performance at school.

The study, which appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, evaluated responses from 12,000 students in grades 9 through 12 who participated in the 2007 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The authors found that 10 percent of adolescents sleep only five hours and 23 percent sleep only six hours on an average school night. More females than males have sleep deficits as do more African-Americans and whites compared to Hispanics. Nearly 20 percent more 12th-grade students have sleep deficits than do those in ninth grade.

The findings of this study were consistent with those reported from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2006 Sleep in America Poll, the authors say, adding that that although no formally accepted sleep guidelines exist, the foundation defines nine hours a night as optimal for adolescents, eight hours as borderline and anything under eight hours as not enough.

“The natural sleep-wake pattern shifts during adolescence, making earlier bed time and wake times more difficult. The result for students with early school start-times is a chronic sleep deficit,” said lead study author Danice Eaton, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As students progress through high school, demands on their time from hectic social activities, jobs, homework and family obligations increase and they sleep less to fit them in, as the study shows. Compounded with their delayed sleep-wake pattern, many students are getting up for school when their bodies tell them it is still the middle of the night.

National Sleep Foundation research shows that delaying school start-times by an hour or more increases the amount of sleep adolescents get and improves their performance in school. However, to promote optimal sleep, Eaton said that adolescents should have set bedtimes before 10 p.m. on school nights and consistent wake-sleep times every night.

Brandy Roane, an expert in adolescent sleep patterns at the Munroe-Meyer Institute of Genetics and Rehabilitation of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said, “Given adolescents’ downward spiraling tendency of depriving themselves of sleep during the week and playing catch-up on the weekend, more research exploring ways to intervene would be beneficial.”

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Reach the Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health, at hbns-editor@cfah.org or (202) 387-2829.

Journal of Adolescent Health: Contact Tor Berg at (415) 502-1373 or tor.berg@ucsf.edu or visit www.jahonline.org

Eaton DK, et al. Prevalence of insufficient, borderline, and optimal hours of sleep
among high school students – United States, 2007. J Adolesc Health online, 2010.

Tags for this article:
Sleep   Promote your Health   Children and Young People's Health  



Comments on this article
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MusinAround says
September 30, 2010 at 12:55 PM

I'm a sleep-deprived teenager and I find that I DO get depressed a lot. Since last year, the amount of sleep I get each night has also decreased to accomodate the workload I get each night. I play catch-up on the weekends and I take a 3-4 hour nap after I get home each day to make up for the lack of sleep I get each night. I usually get to sleep by 2 am and wake up at 7am on the average weekday, and on the weekends I stay up till 4 and maybe get up at 12-1 pm.

lesli vanessa hipolito valdez says
May 15, 2012 at 10:40 AM

I'm a sleep-deprived teenager and i find that these thingsa are really helping me. so thanks for everithing

:)

Whangarei Paora says
September 5, 2012 at 6:23 AM

I sleep mostly at 2 a.m in the morning, and the reason that is, because, I'm always up late doing a ton load of homework.

Mark anonymous says
October 15, 2012 at 2:43 AM

Haha. Made me laugh. I'm 15 and a sophomore. My school starts late (thank god) so i usually sleep from 3 am to 7:30 pm. I get A's across the board unless the class just frickin bores me. Its almost 4 am now and i have school 2morrow. See you in 3.5 hours...

timmy says
February 12, 2013 at 3:40 PM

You just now figured that out.

Wassup says says
May 10, 2013 at 12:15 AM

I normally go to bed at 0000, get up at 0700, but sometimes bed at 0000 and gym at 0415. That's hardest because you miss the deepest part of the night's sleep and not the part where you are lying in bed awake anyways.

It is 2200 and I will start my homework soon. I swear.

ha...

pissedoffteen says
June 19, 2013 at 9:36 PM

I'm 15 and sleep deprived. School always screws me over. I'm always up until 2 am--sometimes three--and it's hell. Even as I type, I'm in the middle of studying for tomorrow's exam. Then it'll be the same story tomorrow. The good thing is, I'm on my break after my last 2 exams. The bad thing? I was shown my time table for grade 11, first semester today. Advanced biology, advanced chemistry AND advanced math all in the same damn semester. I swear, the stress is gonna kill me someday. The office really shouldn't have told me. That dream summer break I was thinking of--the one with no stress or care in the world, the one where I could just sit back, relax, and enjoy life-is gone. Now I'll just end up worrying about grade 11. Great. School's crap.

TeenagerHighschooler says
June 30, 2013 at 3:15 PM

i usually go to sleep around 1 because after schoolwork I barely have any resting time and then i need some sleep but when I lay down I can't sleep for an hour cause I don't fall asleep easily. So I've yet wasted an hour everyday and wake up around 7 to get ready for school.......tiring. I always yawn in my classes which I hate cause when I yawn most of the time my eyes will start to water.

WhatSleep? says
July 15, 2013 at 9:03 PM

I have not slept in over three weeks, thank you high school!

teenager says
September 19, 2013 at 11:13 PM

this article came in very handy this is my freshmen year and well im still trying to get used to the new scheduled. since i used to wake-up at 7:30 and now i have to wake up at 5:30 i has really turned up side down my sleeping scheduled. an also because im always falling asleep in at my classes.

Me says
October 2, 2013 at 9:58 PM

I'm 15, a sophomore in high school, and I usually get about 4 hours of sleep. I get good grades but I'm always tired and depressed. I need t get more sleep...

hi says
October 9, 2013 at 1:43 AM

hi

Logic Rite Here says
October 9, 2013 at 1:45 AM

If you scrolled all the way down this page to read about other peoples problems, try solving your own first.


~Wise Person

Hailey says
October 17, 2013 at 12:34 AM

I'm almost 15 and am so tired day in and day out. I get about 5 hours of sleep at night because i take all advanced classes and get hours on hours of homework in each class. What's worse is that I go to a 3 high school campus in Michigan about a mile long and we have to walk outdoors no matter the weather class to class about 2 miles a day from each school through the heat and snow and rain carrying all of our stuff. This all tires me out even more and I'm actually doing a paper on this article right now and will be up until at least midnight tonight to wake up again at 5:20 am. This is a outrage the way they force you to do this. It should be a law you can't be in 4th hour when the sun comes up... :(

Hailey says
October 17, 2013 at 12:34 AM

I'm almost 15 and am so tired day in and day out. I get about 5 hours of sleep at night because i take all advanced classes and get hours on hours of homework in each class. What's worse is that I go to a 3 high school campus in Michigan about a mile long and we have to walk outdoors no matter the weather class to class about 2 miles a day from each school through the heat and snow and rain carrying all of our stuff. This all tires me out even more and I'm actually doing a paper on this article right now and will be up until at least midnight tonight to wake up again at 5:20 am. This is a outrage the way they force you to do this. It should be a law you can't be in 4th hour when the sun comes up... :(

Hailey says
October 17, 2013 at 12:34 AM

I'm almost 15 and am so tired day in and day out. I get about 5 hours of sleep at night because i take all advanced classes and get hours on hours of homework in each class. What's worse is that I go to a 3 high school campus in Michigan about a mile long and we have to walk outdoors no matter the weather class to class about 2 miles a day from each school through the heat and snow and rain carrying all of our stuff. This all tires me out even more and I'm actually doing a paper on this article right now and will be up until at least midnight tonight to wake up again at 5:20 am. This is a outrage the way they force you to do this. It should be a law you can't be in 4th hour when the sun comes up... :(

Jane says
October 21, 2013 at 3:32 AM

Honestly it's sort of hilarious how many freshmen are already complaining about sleep deprivation. When you're taking full AP/IB courses, DECA, FBLA, a couple sports, and so forth...five hours is what you can call a good amount of sleep. Only solution: get some really nice under-eye concealer and invest in Starbucks gift cards.

Amber says
October 22, 2013 at 12:55 AM

I'm a sleep-deprived teen, (well, kind of. I'm fourteen) and I get no sleep. I'm a also in all AP and IB courses. I go the whole week without sleep. I only sleep on weekends. Well, if I don't have a test or too much homework or a project...which is always.

So to all of you other freshman that are complaining, please shut up. I get 30 mins-2 hrs at most.

And I have to wake up at 3 in the morning for my bus.

Anon says
October 22, 2013 at 2:43 AM

I'm almost 16 and a sophomore in high school and I've been staying up at night till 1 a.m. finishing homework. My school starts at 7:50 a.m. and I wake up at 7:00 a.m. I've been taking 1-3 hr long naps when I come home from school at 3:00 p.m. and then, I run out of time to finish my homework and it continues on almost every weekday.

This may seem like a minor issue compared to others who don't sleep at all, but I get tired and I want to get 8 full hours of sleep! I need to stop procrastinating...

Anon says
October 22, 2013 at 2:49 AM

I'm almost 16 and a sophomore in high school and I've been staying up at night till 1 a.m. finishing homework. My school starts at 7:50 a.m. and I wake up at 7:00 a.m. I've been taking 1-3 hr long naps when I come home from school at 3:00 p.m. and then, I run out of time to finish my homework and it continues on almost every weekday.

This may seem like a minor issue compared to others who don't sleep at all, but I get tired and I want to get 8 full hours of sleep! I need to stop procrastinating...

Random person says
October 23, 2013 at 2:15 AM

The funny part is that the education systems in America won't change to accommodate natural human sleep needs. Right now I am studying for physics, and I will likely only get 4 hours of sleep.

Tired teen says... says
October 25, 2013 at 10:39 PM

I usually go to bed around 11:00pm to 12:00am because I have extra curricular activities. I get home at 4:30pm and eat dinner and do work.
The only problem is that I never feel tired until 11:00pm when people expect me to sleep at 8:00pm or 9:00pm I just never feel tired until late.
Is this because of my natural sleep pattern making me do this?...

Jenny says
October 27, 2013 at 2:56 AM

I usually go to bed around 1 or 2 in the morning. If I take a shower in the morning, I have to get up at 4, and if I don't, I get to wake up at 5-5:30 depending on what I have to do. My bus comes at 6:40 (mind you, I only live 15 minutes away, and first period starts at 7:50). I might be able to catch a few hours on a Tuesday afternoon nap or the weekend, but if I do, my grades immediately begin to drop.
Due to homework, projects, and other school assignments, I experienced sleep deprivation. Over the course of 4 nights, I slept less than 7 hours. I don't think I have had a straight 8-hour sleep for the entire school week since... Possibly 7th grade?
I've suffered with insomnia due to anxiety and depression caused partially from school, and my depression is a side effect of long-term sleep deprivation.
Can someone explain to me why school systems don't just delay school till 8 or 9 in the morning, actually letting us get SOME sleep?

Camada says
October 31, 2013 at 10:42 PM

I used to be sleep deprived, but I have been able to fight it. The point is to get on a sleep schedule, which will allow an easier wake up in the morning (especially on Mondays) and a transition to sleep at night. In order to keep up with this sleep schedule, I started waking up at a fixed time, by the help of an alarm clock, and this, no matter at what time I slept the previous night. After a few days, I started waking up more energized and after a couple of weeks, I even woke up before the alarm clock. What I suggest is to put your alarm clock only on weekends (sorry for party maniacs). I swear, after a couple of weeks, you will feel rejuvenated :)

shia 1233 says
November 16, 2013 at 9:45 AM

i m a 12th grader and i feel really very sleepy and drowsy cause of which i face problems in my studies and still haven't got any solution to my sleeping problem

Kimmie says
January 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

I'm a sleep deprived teenager I'm 16 in grade 11 and its like I am just continuously trying to fall asleep at night, I never get a LEGITIMATE good nights sleep. School really needs to start later, if they want us to succeed they should make school later, cause as it is, I know I'm sleeping in English in less than an hour.

Molly says
January 9, 2014 at 9:01 AM

I have mandatory sports and extracurriculars every single day after classes. I'm so tired every day after school that I fall asleep for a few hours as soon as I get home, then I'm left with not enough time to get my work done. I often go to bed at 2 or 3, sometimes even 4 or 5, like tonight, and get up at 6 or 6:30. I don't know what to do. I'm starting to feel really terribly all the time and I'm just fed up, but I can't change the system.

a person says
January 9, 2014 at 4:20 PM

i get around 6 hours of sleep and i still sleep through my alarm! i wake up around 6:30 every morning and i fall asleep in class. i'm always yawning and i never get my work done. what should i do?!

Meg says
January 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Each night I get about 4 hours of sleep.

I take advance classes and do my best to keep up, and I've always had straight A's. This year, however, my lack of sleep has taken its toll, and I find myself tired all day; the only time I don't feel tired is when I'm sleeping. My grades are suffering as a result of my never-ending tiredness.
As many sleep articles point out, having school start so early isn't completely necessary. Compared to health, I believe an early start isn't as important...
It's strange how school works. The topic of schools starting too early for health's sake has been known for a long time now-- it's absolutely not something new. I hope something changes someday. Not necessarily for me, since I'm already in highschool (it most likely won't change before I graduate), but at least for the later generations.

V muncher says
January 24, 2014 at 3:22 PM

I beat da pussy up

whatever says
February 4, 2014 at 3:45 PM

all i do is try to go to bed by 10pm, thats it. Its not that hard unless you really have important things to do. (that excludes any electronics)

Joel says
February 11, 2014 at 3:32 AM

Hi im a senior in highshcool and i usually get 4-5 gours of sleep a night and i rarely ever take naps after school. I also have an anxiety issue and i may have insomnia but thanks for the help :)

J says
February 20, 2014 at 5:44 AM

I'm a 16 year old sophomore in high school and I get around 1-5 hours of sleep a night on average (going to bed anywhere from 12am to 4am and waking up at 5:15), but I'm unable to keep any form of an actual sleeping schedule due to fluctuating school workloads and activities. Every couple of days I crash after school and nap for around 2 or 3 hours, which is taken out of my homework time and thus makes so I have to stay up later at night.
I've been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and it's likely due to my lack of sleep. This especially sucks because there's not really anything I can do short of allowing my grades to drop (which isn't an option, I don't think).

Most of my friends have trouble sleeping as well because of homework, activities, sports, or other like factors. I understand the reasoning behind starting school earlier, but damn, we all need some sleep.

@youngbullet13 says says
February 25, 2014 at 7:35 PM

We all need 8-9 hours as teens, if its a struggle start taking melatonin and rest up!

Franky S says
February 28, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Im a freshman in HS and i only get 1 hour of sleep every night.

darkshadow dragon slayer says
March 6, 2014 at 1:38 PM

i go to sleep at 1 because i have a lot of things to do in gta5

Sam says
April 2, 2014 at 2:11 AM

I go to bed on weekday at 12 or 1 and on Tuesday and Thursday I wake up at 530 or so to go to weightlifting. It starts at 6 goes till 7 Because r school think we should for sports. I'm in tennis so. After weightlifting I have to go to driver ed at 7 till 8. Then I have school at 8:10 I think. After school sometimes I have pratice for 2 hours. I have a very fun schedule. Also I have to worry about speech class and I go to church on Wednesday and Sunday. I hate are speech class though bcuz you have to give 6 speech or something and one is improtu where you don't know when you r giving it or what about, and the things to have to talk about are all qutos that don't make sense. I don't get how teachers think we r going to get 8 hours of sleep, get good grades, do sports, be in other groups.

Ezra says
May 14, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Wow... People are so pathetic and fake

Hailey says
May 18, 2014 at 4:24 AM

I am a freshman in high school and all of you complaining of only getting 6 hours of sleep, please shut up! I take 6 APs, one advanced orchestra class, live in a competitive 95% Asian area so we are EXTREMELY competitive over here, am in varsity LD speech and debate, varsity water polo, mock trials, MUN, and am writing a novel, do violin, in school and out of school, and take piano as well. My normal day is wake up at 5:30, jog till 6, shower and be out the house by 7:15, school starts at 7:30, in school till 3, then on Monday I have Mock Trials after school, Tuesday and Friday speech and debate, Wednesday MUN then violin lessons, Thursday Mock Trials and then piano lessons. This lasts till 5-6, I eat, then do homework till on a average day 4:30 in the morning, but nowadays its more like I pull all nighters on Mondays-Fridays, then sleep early Friday night, wake up at 7 Saturday and Sunday, study my entire weekend away, study at lunch, at Brunch, any extra time I get in class I'm doing hw and studying. I barely sleep, so all of you complaining, just SHUT UP! You don't know crap about how exhausting high school is even if your in high school if you are complaining about getting 5 or more hours sleep each nigh, boo hoo its not 9 hours, newflash its highs school, you NEVER get 9 hours, but don't complain about getting anywhere more than 4 hours of sleep.

tiredhighschoolstudent says
September 5, 2014 at 3:05 PM

I'm supposed to be in eighth grade but I'm in ninth and because I have so much homework, I usually sleep at 1 am and then I wake up at 5:30 am because my school is far away and starts at 7:20 and ends at 3:45. Let me remind you that I'm only about to turn 14 and that I go to an arts school, so I have to practice my instrument for at least two hours before I start my homework.

A Los Altos High School Student says
September 10, 2014 at 1:22 AM

As a High School student, I'm involved in many things. I love school. Sadly, school is very careless and foolish to forget that Students need more sleep. They expect us to sleep at 10. I wake up at 5:30. That gives me time to reach school at 7:30, a few minutes before the starting bell rings. That equals 7 hours and 30 minutes. That's below borderline as an optimal sleep schedule. To make matters worse, this is nowhere close to the reality. I get home from school at 8 to 9 at Night, packed with all my grueling homework from my classes. I usually finish at 2 or 3. If I'm lucky, I finish at 12 to 1. Count the hours and it equals 2½ to 3½ hours on normal day and 4½ to 5½ hours on a day that I am lucky. I'm happy that I am one of those kids who actually finds a passion, a love for school. and I am motivated to go, but have you considered that I, just like the 2000 or so other students in Los Altos, have a life outside of school? I see my teachers, coaches, and the school janitor more often than the times I discuss with my parents. Another thing I noticed is that my hair is falling more and more often, I have trouble staying up in my classes, and I feel weak at times.I need to pick my strengths up. My wrestling coach, and track coach, as well as my school band director and several of my teachers tell me I am sleep deprived, even when I try hiding it. School needs to be more considerate of how they let teachers give homework as well as how they make teenagers like us have to go to school so early. A school that lowers tolerance to grades a little to aports people should be added to sports policies. Possibly giving us timebto finish homework as a "subclass" can help. I, as many others, need sleep.

Maryland HS Student says
September 11, 2014 at 1:18 AM

I am 16 taking three AP classes (World, Psych, and English 11). The work isn't even hard, it is just IMPOSSIBLE TO GET ANY SLEEP. I play golf, tennis, softball, VP of SGA, I'm in a student activist group, journalism (the list goes on...) I have no me time. Most nights I lit. go to sleep at 3:30. And school starts at 9:30! It is not good to have school late, guys! You have no daytime. If only school could start at 7:30.. I'd get plenty of sleep then.

bee says
September 19, 2014 at 1:31 AM

IB student freshman, lately getting 3-4 hrs of sleep a night

Lay says
September 22, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Stop picking on freshman guys, just bc they are younger doesn't mean they can't be sleep deprived too. No one has it worse than anyone else or better, jeez

Someone Says says
October 9, 2014 at 11:26 PM

Fish taking IB and still sleep at 9:00 p.m. and waking up at 5:30. I don't see how you should have trouble getting sleep. I do tennis everyday after school and I do HOSA and Spanish Club

Too Tired says
October 10, 2014 at 12:40 AM

I have a very very bad sleep habits becuase at the momment i am taking a 0 hour class which means i have to be at school at 6:30 ad i ride the bus so i have to be on the bus at 5:30 after a 20 min walk to the bus stop so most days i'm up at 4:30 ish. and after school i have sperts and i get hom at 5:30 and then i have to go to dance class until about 8:30 and then i stay up unitl about 2 doing homework. and i am always dead by 4th period.

ITs not that hard says
October 20, 2014 at 9:31 PM

i can say i have 8 periods a day non ap i am making A's and B's in school and im a sleep between 7 - 9 pm and awake between 6-7 i don't use alarm clocks. now a days in school your not getting enough homework on a average schedule to even have 2 hours of work. most of you stay up all night because you dont actually work ..

Some Help- this is what worked for me says
November 14, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Helpers:

-- Be efficient with your homework time. Use a timer and do short sprints of work, take breaks (like this technique http://pomodorotechnique.com/). You are actually only productive for short periods of time take advantage of the sprint work method. You accomplish more in less time.

-- Not understanding a concept in homework? Use Khan Academy's online lessons they really helped me especially in math to pick up concepts faster and not struggle so much. https://www.khanacademy.org/

-- Do your next day's homework during any study halls or breaks you have. Boring class where you know everything already, do your homework during that class. Bus time= homework time. Waiting 10 min for a class to let you= homework time. Sneak in bits and pieces throughout your day so you have less to do at night.

-- Sleep schedule is key, same bedtime and waking time each day even on the weekends. Yes I know it kind of sucks but the regularity helps your body sleep faster and wake more easily.

-- Use no backlit or glowing screens 1-2 hours before bed, scientific studies indicate it keeps you up and jazzed. Turn off the phone, computer, TV well ahead of bed time. I used to read English Lit last since it was all book reading no lights or glowing objects http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/blue-light-from-electronics-disturbs-sleep-especially-for-teenagers/2014/08/29/3edd2726-27a7-11e4-958c-268a320a60ce_story.html

-- During the day practice the art of the 10-20 minute power nap. They work far better than caffeine. http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/the-secret-and-surprising-power-of-naps

-- Exercise outside actually helps, just not right before bedtime. Outdoor sports are great for this. If you hate sports take a brisk walk (fast enough you can't talk while walking) sometime during the day, lunch or study hall if allowed, walk or bike to school or friends house. This will help tire you out, give you some sunlight which boosts your mood, etc

-- Meditation is incredibly helpful for reducing stress and helping you fall asleep. Look up walking meditation or mindful meditation they are easier to start with and you can even do them during your day to day activities (e.g. while walking to school, lunchtime run or walk etc)

Reality check- it will work for you:

I did 6 seasons of varsity level sports a year. I worked 15hrs a week during the school year. Difficult coursework. With these helpers I got about 5hrs of sleep a night but made it through with good grades, a social life, and good health by following these tactics.

If you have less responsibilities you can easily get 8hrs using the above tips.



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