An alarming number of adolescents are nodding off in class, driving while drowsy and falling asleep over their homework, all because they are not getting enough sleep, a new survey shows.
And, according to a new poll just released by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), the lack of sleep gets worse as teens get older.
Small percentage of teens getting adequate amounts of sleep
In a national survey on the sleep patterns of U.S. adolescents (ages 11 to 17), the 2006 Sleep in America poll found that only 20 percent of adolescents get the recommended nine hours of sleep on school nights, and nearly one-half sleep less than eight hours on school nights.
The poll indicates that the consequences of insufficient sleep affect nearly every aspect of teenage life.
Among the findings:
- At least once a week, more than one-quarter (28 percent) of high school students fall asleep in school, 22 percent fall asleep doing homework and 14 percent arrive late or miss school because they oversleep.
- Adolescents who get insufficient amounts of sleep are more likely than their peers to get lower grades, while 80 percent of adolescents who get an optimal amount of sleep say they are achieving As and Bs in school.
- More than one-half (51 percent) of adolescent drivers have driven drowsy during the past year. In fact, 15 percent of drivers in 10th to 12th grades drive drowsy at least once a week.
- More than one-quarter (28 percent) of adolescents say they are too tired to exercise.
- Only 41 percent of respondents said they got a good nights sleep every, or most, nights. Ten percent reported rarely or never getting a good nights sleep.
- Three-quarters of respondents said they had at least one caffeinated beverage each day, while 31 percent said they had two or more such drinks. Caffeine can affect sleep.
- In addition, the poll found that parents are mostly in the dark about their adolescents sleep requirements.
While most students know they are not getting the sleep they need, 90 percent of parents polled believe that their adolescent is getting enough sleep at least a few nights during the school week.
Compounding the problem
The poll also found that the amount of sleep declines as adolescents get older.
The survey classifies nine or more hours a night as an optimal amount of sleep, in line with sleep experts recommendations for this age group, with less than eight hours classified as insufficient.
Sixth graders report they sleep an average of 8.4 hours on school nights, while 12th graders sleep just 6.9 hours, which is 1.5 hours less than their younger peers and two hours less than recommended.
In fact, by the time adolescents become high school seniors, they are missing out on nearly 12 hours of needed sleep each week.
Consult with your physician if you think your teen may be sleep deprived.
More Information at Your Fingertips:
Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
If you enjoyed this article and are not already a subscriber, subscribe today to Discover Rush Online. You'll receive health information, breaking medical news and helpful tips for maintaining your health each month via e-mail.