Getting sufficient hours of sleep on a regular basis is important for optimum functioning throughout the day. Getting enough sleep is also linked to physical health. Individuals who are chronically sleep-deprived may be more susceptible to physical illness and more prone to accidents due to lack of concentration or inattention. Research indicates that sleep loss has a negative effect on motor performance, cognitive function, and mood.27 For adolescents, not getting enough sleep may translate into lower performance in school or may affect socialization.
The number of hours that prove to be sufficient may differ between ages and individuals. A recent survey indicates that males ages 12 through 17 average 65.8 hours of sleep per week and females of the same age average 66.8 hours per week (approximately 9.5 hours of sleep a night for both sexes).28 Analyses based on data from the 1995 National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health allow for an examination of youth perceptions of whether they obtain the sleep they need. In 1995, 74.1 percent of youth ages 12 through 17 reported that they got enough sleep (see Table SD 2.5).
Differences by Gender. Adolescent males are more likely to report getting enough sleep than their female peers. In 1995, 76.4 percent of males ages 12 through 17 reported getting enough sleep, compared with 71.8 percent of females.
Differences by Age and Grade. In 1995, approximately four out of every five (82.2 percent) youth ages 12 through 14 reported getting enough sleep, compared with 70.5 percent of youth ages 15 through 17. Similarly, in grades 7 and 8, 83.3 percent of students reported getting enough sleep, compared with 72.5 percent of students in grades 9 and 10 and 66.5 percent of students in grades 11 and 12.
Differences by Family Structure. Lower percentages of adolescents who live with a single father reported getting enough sleep (65.6 percent), compared with adolescents in other living arrangements (see Table SD 2.5).
27 Pilcher, J., & Huffcut, A. 1996. Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Performance: A Meta-analysis. Sleep 19 (4): 318-326.
28 Results from the Americans’ Use of Time Project, University of Maryland, as reported in Robinson, J.P., & Bianchi, S. 1997. The Children's Hours. American Demographics 12.
Table SD 2.5 Percentage of adolescents ages 12 through 17 in the United States who report that they get enough sleep, by gender, age, grade, race and Hispanic origin,a and family structure: 1995
|Race and Hispanic Origina|
|Biological/Adoptive Mother & Father||75.6|
|Mother & Spouse/Partner||76.2|
|Father & Spouse/Partner||76.5|
a Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
Source: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Wave 1, 1995, tabulations by Child Trends.
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