A study led by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health shows that the teens in the U.S. spend fewer hours asleep during nighttime than their peers did a couple of decades ago.
Scientists also found that female students, poor students and adolescents of ethnic or racial minority origins had the highest risk of not getting at least 7 hours of night-sleep, which is the minimum amount of sleep recommended for adults.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s guidelines, adolescents should sleep at least 8 to 10 hours every night. NSF and other studies also revealed that a proper night sleep is vital for humans to stay in optimal health. For instance, a recent study showed that night sleep helps the memory consolidate and boosts cognitive functions.
Whenever a teen lacks sleep, he/she becomes impaired since their cognitive abilities steadily decline. Lack of sleep also seems to be linked to obesity, drug abuse, meager academic results, mood swings, and pimples in adolescents.
Researchers based their findings on a set of data collected during an annual survey called Monitoring the Future. This survey monitored more than 270,000 U.S. teenagers between 1991 and 2012.
Researchers noted that the sleep hours of an average teenager declined over the last two decades. According to the data collected in 1991, 72 percent of teenagers used to sleep more than 7 hours every night, while twenty years later the figure fell to 63 percent.
The biggest decline in sleep hours was recorded between 1991-1995 and 1996-2000. Health experts warn that sleep deprivation within formative years may irremediably alter the cognitive functions and may trigger a cohort of health problems later in life.
Another recent study, published this month in the Journal of Adolescent Health, claims that it may have found the cause behind sleep deprivation among teens. According to its authors sleep patterns in adolescence are tightly related to parents’ and other significant family members’ sleep habits.
This latter study was conducted by the University of California in Los Angeles and involved more tan 500 teens and parents. Eighty-seven percent of teens were born in the U.S., while 81 percent of their parents were Mexican immigrants.
Over two years, the study participants were observed and their sleep patterns recorded. Parent-teen relationships were also assessed. Scientists found that teens slept more than 8 hours on non-school nights, but a half an hour less during school nights. Parents were also sleeping on an average 17 minutes less on school nights.
Researchers noticed one interesting fact during this study – whenever parents stayed up late or went to bed earlier, their teens often unconsciously mimicked their sleep patterns.
Image Source: She Knows