During the latter part of 2014, and continuing into this year, multiple studies regarding sleep deprivation have been released. The overall picture is unsettling. Virtually all of the American working class fails to sleep a sufficient number of hours to be healthy and effective human beings. Because of their age of development a recently released study about teenagers is disturbing.

270,000 teenagers were studied by Columbia University between 1991 and 2012. The National Sleep Foundation informs us that teenagers need a minimum of eight hours of sleep each night. The study showed that 72 percent of teenagers averaging 15 years of age slept for seven or more hours each night in 1991. By 2012 the percentage dropped to 63.

This has raised concerns among health professionals and educators. Lack of sleep is expected to result in various health concerns as well as insufficient educational achievement. Teenagers who suffer a lack of sufficient number of sleep hours may result in the inability to reason, severe mood swings, problems with mental health, the inability to control body weight, and abuse of alcohol or drugs.

Several suggestions have been offered by education specialists. The most frequently suggested is a delay in the beginning of the school day by one hour. Objections immediately followed from parents, coaches, and school administration. Extracurricular activities could be thwarted, and the school bus schedules would be nearly impossible to alter effectively.

In February of this year the National Sleep Foundation revised its suggestion relating to the number of hours teenagers between 14 and 17 should sleep. The new standard is eight to 10 hours, elevated from 8.5 to 9.5 hours.

Other suggestions by sleep specialists are focused on restricting the use of electronic devices two hours before bedtime. The stimulation caused by video games, tweeting and texting restrict teenager’s ability to fall asleep and also the quality of that sleep.

By James Turnage


Youth Health


Photo Courtesy of Ed Yourdon

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