Sleep Deprived Teens at Risk of Health and Behavioral Problems


How much sleep are teens getting?

Getting enough sleep is essential for good mental and physical health. This is especially true for a developing body and mind. Yet more than two-thirds of high school students in the U.S. are failing to get enough sleep on school nights, according to a 2016 study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Results show that 69% of surveyed students in grades 9 to 12 reported sleeping less than eight hours on an average school night. Only about one in 10 of our teens get the 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night recommended by doctors and sleep scientists.

Why do teens need sleep?

Sleep deprivation among our teens is an epidemic and the consequences can be dire. Teens who don’t get enough sleep are at greater risk for many things including:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • suicide
  • truancy
  • poor grades
  • decreased athletic performance

“Getting more sleep can literally save lives,” said Tyler Wyland, a senior at Appleton West High School, who helped develop a recent teen sleep awareness campaign for the Fox Valley. “Our mental health – and physical health, depends on getting enough sleep. But we are a generation of sleep-deprived, over-extended, stressed-out teens.”

Change is needed. Help raise awareness!

Wyland and a group of teens from the Willems Student Marketing Team of Appleton launched their “Dream On: Teens Need Zzz’s” billboard and social media campaign this month. The month-long campaign is engaging students in the tri-county region about the importance of getting enough sleep.

Join the campaign on twitter by following @TeensNeedZzzs or by searching #ShowUsYourYawn.

Local Data Related to Teen Sleep

Local Youth Behavioral Risk Survey data from the tri-county region (Outagamie, Winnebago and Calumet counties) show that teens who receive 5 or fewer hours of sleep (18 percent of high schoolers) experience the highest rate (48%) of feeling “sad and hopeless,” a risk factor for depression; students who received 8 or more  ours of sleep (only 30 percent) had the lowest rate (18%).

Insufficient sleep also significantly increases teens’ risk for drowsy driving accidents. A 2014 study found teen drivers who start class earlier in the morning are involved in significantly more motor vehicle accidents than those with later start times. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., according to the CDC.

“Sleep has a huge impact on mental health, and it also affects grades, athletic ability, driving safely and everything we do,” said Trevor Kislewski, a senior at Appleton East High School and part of the Willems team. “And there are lots of little things we can do to improve our sleep habits which is what this campaign is about. But first, we need to acknowledge the importance of sleep.”

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Winnebago County Health Department

Vision: The Winnebago County Health Department is a leader in creating a culture that optimizes health and wellness in our community. Mission: Winnebago County Health Department leads change by providing services and building partnerships that strengthen the community.

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