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Sleep in Middle and High School Students

Sleepy female student

Children and adolescents who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk for many health and behavior problems. Learn how much sleep students need and how many are not getting it.

Importance of Sleep

Children and adolescents who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, injuries, poor mental health, and problems with attention and behavior.1-4

How much sleep someone needs depends on their age. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recommended that children aged 6–12 years should regularly sleep 9–12 hours per 24 hours and teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours.1

Alert student raising hand in class

Students who get enough sleep may have fewer attention and behavior problems.

Are Students Getting Enough Sleep?

CDC analyzed data from the 2015 national and state Youth Risk Behavior Surveys.5 Students were asked how much sleep they usually got on school nights. Students who were 6 to 12 years old and who reported sleeping less than 9 hours were considered to not get enough sleep. Teenagers aged 13 to 18 years who reported sleeping less than 8 hours also were considered to not get enough sleep.

Middle school students (grades 6-8)

  • Students in 9 states were included in the study
  • About 6 out of 10 (57.8%) did not get enough sleep on school nights

High school students (grades 9-12)

  • National sample
  • About 7 out of 10 (72.7%) did not get enough sleep on school nights
Most Students Need More Sleep infographic

Many middle school and high school students do not get the sleep they need. View large image and text description.

Help Your Child Get the Sleep They Need

Parents can support good sleep habits such as:

  • Sticking to a consistent sleep schedule during the school week and weekends. This means going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning. Adolescents whose parents set bedtimes are more likely to get enough sleep.6 To help decide on a good bedtime for your child, go to the Bedtime Calculator.
  • Limiting light exposure and technology use in the evenings.
    • Parents can limit when their children may use electronic devices (sometimes referred to as a “media curfew”).
    • Parents can limit where their children may use electronic devices (for example, not in their child’s bedroom).
  • Other tips for better sleep are available at CDC’s Tips for Better Sleep.

References

  1. Paruthi S, Brooks LJ, D’Ambrosio C, et al. Consensus statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine on the recommended amount of sleep for healthy children: methodology and discussion. J Clin Sleep Med 2016;12:1549–61.
  2. Owens J; Adolescent Sleep Working Group; Committee on Adolescence. Insufficient sleep in adolescents and young adults: an update on causes and consequences. Pediatrics 2014;134:e921–32.
  3. Lowry R, Eaton DK, Foti K, McKnight-Eily L, Perry G, Galuska DA. Association of sleep duration with obesity among US high school students. J Obes 2012;2012:476914.
  4. Fitzgerald CT, Messias E, Buysse DJ. Teen sleep and suicidality: results from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys of 2007 and 2009. J Clin Sleep Med 2011;7:351–6.
  5. Wheaton AG, Everett Jones S, Cooper AC, Croft JB. Short sleep duration among middle school and high school students — United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:85-90.
  6. Short MA, Gradisar M, Lack LC, et al. A cross-cultural comparison of sleep duration between US and Australian adolescents: the effect of school start time, parent-set bedtimes, and extracurricular load. Health Educ Behav 2013;40:323–30.
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