The big data study, executed by Boston College, shows that the United States is the country were most children are sleep deprived. Teachers identify 73 percent of the 10-year-olds and even 80 percent of the 14-year-olds as affected by a lack of sleep.
The research showed that 76 percent of the American 10-year olds underachieved due to sleep deprivation. That is significantly higher than the international average of 47 percent for 10-year-olds and 57 percent for 14-year-olds.
Other countries with the most sleep deprived teenagers are New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Australia and Turkey. The top scoring Finnish students also suffer above average from a lack of sleep, the study shows. The most rested youngsters can be found in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Slovakia. Japan’s youth is also among the most well-rested.
The research combined vast amounts of data from math and literacy tests, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). These standardized tests are annually taken by almost a million pupils in primary and secondary schools per year in over 50 countries.
The researchers wanted to understand the influence of home life on the test results of pupils. Extensive research has been done on the role of poverty, but the influence of sleep deprivation was not appropriately researched.
Blame the smartphone
To study this, tests were supplemented with a questionnaire for teachers, pupils and parents about sleep patterns. The results from this questionnaire were linked with the test results so that student performance could be compared to the amount of sleep. The research pointed out a very clear cause for the lack of sleep among teenagers: the smartphone. Pupils that still use their laptop or smartphone in bed late at night are most often suffering from sleep deprivation.
A good night’s sleep does not make one an excellent students. Sleep deprived Finnish students still outperform the well-rested pupils from Kazakhstan. Nonetheless a good night’s sleep does make the difference an excellent and average student, the researchers explain. Differences can be found between the two age-cohorts as well. Young South Korean pupils have very low levels of sleep deprivation while in secondary school they suffer a lot more from a lack of sleep.
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