Study Uncovers Rampant Sleep Deprivation among Teens

sleeping teen at schoolParents have lamented the “laziness” of teens for generations, but a new study offers a wake-up call to those who think teens sleep too much. According to the study, which will be published online in Pediatrics, a large number of teens aren’t getting enough sleep.

Teen Sleep Deprivation Is Common

According to new recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation, teens need eight to 10 hours of sleep each night. This study explored the number of teens who get seven hours or fewer. Researchers examined results from a nationally representative survey of more than 270,000 students in the eighth, 10th, and 12th grades. The survey covered 1991 to 2012, offering researchers the chance to compare teens of more than 20 years ago to teens of today.

The survey found that, overall, the number of teens getting seven or more hours of sleep per night has declined. Some groups are more likely to experience sleep deprivation than others, though. Among 15-year-olds, 72% reported getting seven or more hours of sleep per night in 1991, but in 2012 the number had fallen to 63%. Racial and ethnic minorities, as well as teens whose parents had little formal education, reported sleeping less than other groups. Yet these teens were more likely than others to believe they were getting adequate sleep, suggesting that some teens may not realize they are sleep-deprived. Female students also reported lower overall levels of sleep.

Are Later School Start Times the Solution?

Poor sleep is associated with issues such as depression, anxiety, and decreased immunity in both teens and adults, and it may not help that schools are starting earlier and earlier. A second study by the University of Michigan explores how parents feel about later school start times. According to a national survey of parents whose children range in age from 13 to 17:

  • Forty percent believe later start times would allow more time for sleep, and 20% believe the change would boost school performance.
  • Twenty percent worry that later start times would not allow sufficient time for after-school activities.
  • Twenty-seven percent of parents would support later start times only if doing so did not affect school budgets, while 20% would support later start times regardless of the effect on budgets.
  • One in seven parents worry that later start times would create transportation challenges.


  1. Support for sleeping in? Half of parents favor later school start times for teens. (2015, February 16). Retrieved from
  2. Teens increasingly sleep deprived. (2015, February 16). Retrieved from

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  • Leave a Comment
  • Zada

    February 18th, 2015 at 12:46 PM

    How is this even possible?
    I am pretty sure my boys would sleep all the time if I would let them

  • larry

    February 19th, 2015 at 5:09 AM

    I would suspect that if we did a little more investigating it would show that there are many of us from all age groups who are not getting the kind of restful sleep that we actually need.

  • g junior

    February 20th, 2015 at 10:46 AM

    So they might be sleeping but think about all of the distractions that could be keeping them from getting actual GOOD sleep. devices, computers phones, worries about school, all of that could cause teens to be deprived of getting the kind of rest that we need to get to perform at our very best.

  • Corrie

    February 21st, 2015 at 9:32 AM

    We all did this right? Burning the candle at both ends? They will come around to seeing how important sleep is for them

  • olive

    February 26th, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    I think that before we seriously consider later school start times we should encourage parents to do things in the home that would improve sleep for their kids. This means teaching them to be good sleepers from a very early age, not allowing devices or tv before bed, encouraging a nutritious diet… all of these things could go a longways toward improving sleep without having to change the schedule that most of us try so hard to work with and around anyway.

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