Too Little Sleep May Add to Teen Health Problems
Many teens from lower- and middle-income homes get too little sleep, potentially adding to the problems of kids already at risk for health issues, new research finds.
The study of 250 high school students found they slept an average of six hours a night, far less than the recommended amount -- about nine hours.
Kids who skimp on sleep are more likely to report feeling hopeless, as well as smoke, drink alcohol and use marijuana, according to background information in the report, published online April 21 in Pediatrics.
"Many teenagers, especially blacks, do not get enough sleep, which may contribute to their risk for poor health," said lead researcher Karen Matthews, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
"Inadequate sleep can result in academic underachievement, health-damaging behaviors and negative mood," she said.
Matthews said sleep deprivation isn't confined to the poor. "Many kids who come from upper class families also do not get enough sleep, but our study focused on poorer children because of a lack of data available in those [upper class] students," she said.
Matthews isn't sure why these teens aren't sleeping enough. "However, factors that determine bedtime play a key role for sleep duration because of mandatory school start times," she said. "Bedtimes can be quite late if students are using electronic devices late into the evening, and bright light exposure [from these devices] can keep them up," she said.