Study Finds That Teens Aren't Getting Enough Sleep

A recent study indicates something that many parents and teachers already know: adolescents are not getting enough sleep. Sleep experts have found that teenagers ideally need nine hours of sleep per night in order to be alert and productive at school. Seven hours or less is considered to be insufficient.

Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, examined data from two long-running surveys of more than 360,000 people. She, along with two graduate students from Iowa State University, published their findings in the journal Sleep Medicine. According to Science Daily, “Combining and analyzing data from both surveys, the researchers found that about 40% of adolescents in 2015 slept less than 7 hours a night, which is 58% more than in 1991 and 17% more than in 2009.”

“Delving further into the data, the researchers learned that the more time young people reported spending online, the less sleep they got,” the report went on to say. “Teens who spent 5 hours a day online were 50% more likely to not sleep enough than their peers who only spent an hour online each day.”

Smartphone usage increased drastically in 2009, a phenomenon that Twenge suspects contributed to the 17 percent jump in a decrease in sleep among adolescents. She noticed that a decrease in sleep correlated to an increase in screen time. Since our bodies require a certain amount of sleep to function properly, it is probable that students who lack enough sleep every night are making up for it by napping more on weekends, or by dozing off in the middle of class.

While smartphone and tablet usage are important to everyday life, it is essential to not let them interfere with much-needed sleep — especially for growing teens. A good compromise would be to limit screen time to two hours per day, thereby allowing enough time to get some rest. It is also recommended to not use such devices immediately prior to bedtime, as they can interfere with the body’s ability to fall asleep.