A Boston College study has found that US students are the most sleep-deprived in the world.
The study, which was based on data gathered by testing more than 900,000 students from 50 different countries, determined that the US has the largest percentage of students “whose academic performance, particularly in math and science, suffers due to poor sleep.” According to the BBC, the study found that “sleep deprivation is such a serious disruption that lessons have to be pitched at a lower level to accommodate sleep-starved learners.” So even those students who are getting enough sleep are being deprived
The international comparison … found the United States to have the highest number of sleep-deprived students, with 73% of 9 and 10-year-olds and 80% of 13 and 14-year-olds identified by their teachers as being adversely affected.
In literacy tests there were 76% of 9 and 10-year-olds lacking sleep.
This was much higher than the international average of 47% of primary pupils needing more sleep and 57% among the secondary age group.
The 5 countries that top the list of sleep deprived students are:
- United States
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
Chad Minnich, of the TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center told the BBC:
I think we underestimate the impact of sleep. Our data show that across countries internationally, on average, children who have more sleep achieve higher in maths, science and reading. That is exactly what our data show. It’s the same link for children who are lacking basic nutrition.
The problem is more prevelent in countries that are technologically advanced, and sleep experts have been able to link much of the problem to “technology in children’s bedroom—specifically the use of screens on smartphones or laptops late at night.” But it’s not late night texting or Facebook that is the problem, it is the actual light from the screens. When held close to the face research has found that it is “physically disruptive to the natural onset of sleep.” Dr. Karrie Fitzpatrick, who is a sleep researcher at Northwestern University in Illinois said, “Having a computer screen that is eight inches away from your face is going to expose you to a lot more light than watching a television on the opposite side of the room. It’s going to tell your brain to stay awake.”
While this news would seem to be discouraging to US parents and teachers, Dr. Fitzpatrick explains that so long as a person has not gone into “extreme sleep deprivation,” and if you can go back to getting seven to nine hours pf sleep a night, and “as long as there has been no permanent damage,” there should be no problem restoring the “functionality of accumulating, processing and being able to recall memories.”
Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography/Flickr