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16 February 2015 - MNT - Teenagers increasingly not getting enough sleep

James McIntosh

Despite the popular stereotypical image of the teenager spending a ridiculous amount of time in bed, a new study reports that teenagers are increasingly sleep deprived.

Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health have found that the number of hours slept per night has decreased among teenagers in the US over the past 20 years.

Among their findings, published in Pediatrics, the researchers observed that female students, racial and ethnic minorities and students of lower socioeconomic status were least likely to report regularly getting 7 or more hours sleep each night.

Getting enough sleep is vital for the health. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), teenagers function best obtaining 8-10 hours of sleep every night.

Without adequate levels of sleep, adolescents can find their abilities to think and reason impaired and become more prone to mood swings and pimples. Lack of sleep is also associated with mental health issues, weight gain, academic problems and substance abuse.

Dr. Keyes states that although the underlying reasons for the decreases in hours of sleep are unknown, factors such as increased internet and social media use and the heightened competitiveness of the college admissions process are adding to the problem.

A lack of sleep can seriously compromise the important formative years of adolescents, affecting performances in school exams and on the court and field. As well as negatively affecting their present health, it could also affect the health of their future prospects.

"Declines in self-reported adolescent sleep across the last 20 years are concerning and suggest that there is potentially a significant public health concern that warrants health education and literacy approaches," she concludes.