Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Keyes: The Monitoring the Future study is an annually conducted survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade high school students in the United States, covering a wide range of adolescent health behaviors. The same questions on adolescent sleep were queried every year since 1991, allowing us to examine historical trends in the amount of sleep adolescents report. We found that there have been substantial decreases in the proportion of adolescents who report 7 or more hours of sleep on a regular basis, across all age groups and across all demographic groups. In the most recent years, after age 15, less than half of adolescents report regularly getting 7 or more hours of sleep every night. Given the importance of sleep in both the short and the long term for adolescent health, these findings suggest substantial public health concern.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Keyes: We encourage parents, educators, clinicians and public health professionals to talk with adolescents about the recommended guidelines for sleep, 8-10 hours a night, and how obtaining adequate sleep and help adolescents achieve goals, both academically and socially. Sleep is critical to adolescent health, and reinforcing the benefits of sleep to adolescents may improve outcomes.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Keyes: We found that the majority of the decreases in adolescent sleep occurred in the 1990s, before smart phones and social media became embedded in most adolescent lives. Health outcomes that changed across that time include major increases in pediatric and adolescent overweight and obesity – given that such health outcomes are linked to sleep problems, we speculate that such changes may be linked to the historical trends in sleep that we have observed. Future studies should examine the extent to which changes in obesity and other health problems may be linked to adolescent sleep patterns, and continued monitoring and surveillance of adolescent sleep is critical to ongoing public health efforts.
The Great Sleep Recession: Changes in Sleep Duration Among US Adolescents, 1991–2012
Katherine M. Keyes, Julie Maslowsky, Ava Hamilton, and John Schulenberg
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Katherine M. Keyes, Ph.D. (2015). Less Than Half of Adolescents Report Getting Enough Sleep