Too Many Teens Too Tired

Excessive sleepiness among teens may indicate undetected sleep disorders

(RxWiki News) If you're finding it hard to rouse your teen from bed in the morning, you're not alone. Excessive sleepiness appears to be a trend among teenagers.

The question is why.

A recent study found almost 40 percent of high school students were excessively sleepy during the day. The sleepiness may indicate sleep disorders.

"In our study we found excessive daytime sleepiness was common among high school students," the researchers concluded.

These results indicate teenagers may need to visit a doctor to learn how to sleep better at night.

"Get plenty of sleep."

The study, led by Pranav Jain, from West Virginia University in Morgantown, aimed to find out how common it was for high school students to feel excessively sleepy.

Being extremely sleepy can increase the risk of being in a motor vehicle accident and can contribute to poor performance at school.

The researchers surveyed 234 high school students with an average age of 16 and had a response rate of 84 percent.

After taking out the surveys that were incomplete, they analyzed the responses of 141 students (72 percent of the original group).

The researchers used a standard sleepiness scale used in clinics called the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (from 0 to 24). Scores from 0 to 9 are considered in the normal range. It asks questions about how likely a person is to doze off in certain situations during the day, such as reading, watching TV, stopped in a car or while sitting quietly.

From this group, 39 percent of the respondents (55 students) had a score of 10 or higher on the sleepiness scale used in the survey. This indicates excessive daytime sleepiness.

These students were more likely to report having poor sleep or not getting enough sleep than those who had a score below 10.

While 80 percent of those with a score over 10 said they didn't get enough sleep or they got poor sleep, 62 percent of those with a score under 10 said as much.

Yet the difference in the number of hours of sleep each night was not very different between the two groups.

Those with a score over 10 reported getting about 6.8 hours a sleep each night on average, compared to 7 hours for those with a score under 10.

Overall, a third of the students (33 percent) said they snored, and about 28 percent of the respondents were overweight or obese.

However, the researchers found no major differences between the two high school groups (those scoring over 10 on the sleepiness scale and those scoring under 10) in terms of their weight, how much they snored or how many hours a week they spent doing physical activity, playing video games or watching TV.

They said  both groups were also getting too little sleep, so the lack of a link between the sleep time and the sleepiness may indicate undiagnosed sleep disorders in some students.

The study was presented October 24 at CHEST 2012, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, in Atlanta Georgia. No information was available regarding funding, but the authors declared no conflicts of interest.

The findings of this study should be interpreted with caution because they are preliminary and have not been reviewed by other researchers yet.

Review Date: 
October 23, 2012