Developmental Trends in Sleep Duration in Adolescence and Young Adulthood

Evidence From a National United States Sample
A high school student sits with his hands covering his face in a classroom.

American adolescents get less than recommended amounts of sleep, possibly having lasting health consequences.

The Issue:

Too much sleep or too little sleep in adolescence and young adulthood can cause an array of health problems, such as depression, hypertension and substance use. Sleep patterns vary as youth adjust to school and college schedules, or adult roles of work or family. Researchers looked at sleeping patterns in adolescence (ages 13–18), emerging adulthood (19–22), and early adulthood (23–32).

 

Key Findings

  • Sleep duration decreased from 8.5 hours per night at age 13 to 7.3 hours at age 18, increased through age 22 to 8.5 hours, then decreased to 7.7 hours at age 32.

  • Short sleep duration (less than 6 hours a night) increased over time as did long sleep duration (more than 10 hours a night).

  • Females’ sleep duration differed from that of males, most extremely at 22 when women slept 50 minutes longer than men.

Conclusion:

Widespread insufficient sleep during adolescence, raises alarm that it may increase chronic conditions in adulthood.

About the Study:

The study used data on 20,745 youth from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, following them in four waves, with participants ranging from 11 to 34 years old.