From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Teen Can’t Concentrate? Could Be Lack of Sleep

Science has finally proven what your teen has been trying to tell you all along – U.S. teens really are more likely to feel tired in the morning when compared to teens in other countries.

The study, U.S. Teens in Our World: Understanding the Health of U.S. Youth in Comparison to Youth in Other Countries, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, looked at 15 year olds in the U.S. and other countries, and found that around 40 percent of U.S. teens reported being tired in the morning while some of the lower ranking countries had only 15 percent of teens reporting a tired feeling at day’s start. Additionally, the study also showed that nearly half of all teens in the U. S. had difficulty sleeping at least once a week.

A 1999 study by the National Sleep Foundation had results that were even higher: 60 percent of children under 18 reported being tired during the day while a full 15 percent of school-age children reported that they feel asleep during school.

Sleepiness, whether on the job, behind the wheel or at school, can lead to a variety of problems including an increased risk of error and injury, and decreases in productivity and accuracy.

A 1997 project by the National Sleep Foundation, “Sleep, Pain and the Workplace,” looked at over 400 respondents and determined how their work was affected by bouts of poor sleep. The results showed the following:

  • 63 percent had more difficulty handling stressful situations.
  • 60 percent reported more difficulty concentrating on the task they were performing.
  • 57 percent experienced more difficulties listening to what others were saying.
  • 55 percent had difficulties solving problems on the job.
  • 48 percent had difficulty making decisions.
  • 43 percent had more difficulty relating to their co-workers.

Respondents in the survey also said their concentration was about 70 percent of normal on days following a poor-sleep night and that they accomplished only 76 percent of what they could have accomplished if they had been well rested. Lastly, respondents also admitted that with poor sleep, their work quality diminished by 20 percent.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the circadian rhythm (internal sleep-wake clock) of teens naturally makes them go to sleep later than adults and wake up later as well. One problem often noted as a contributor to sleepy teens is the early school start time that doesn’t mesh with a teen’s internal clock. In 2003, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced a resolution into congress to make the start time of all schools more ergonomic for students. The resolution, deemed the “ZZZ’s to A’s” Act, encouraged school districts to change their start times to 8:30 a.m. or later.

Source: National Sleep Foundation