New York

3 in 4 NYC High School Students Sleep-Deprived, Majority of City Kids Overuse Electronics: Study

A lack of sleep and overuse of electronic devices is especially prevalent among NYC high schoolers, the study says

What to Know

  • A majority of high schoolers and many school children in New York City are sleep-deprived, a new study says
  • The majority of children and teens in the city spend too much time on electronic devices, according to the study
  • Research suggests a correlation between poor sleep and screen time; and a lack of sleep can have a negative effect on mental health

The vast majority of New York City high schoolers, and many of the city's school children, are sleep-deprived and spend too much time on electronic devices -- factors that makes them at risk for poor mental health, according to a new study by the city Health Department.

On an average school night, 75 percent of high schools students reported getting fewer than the recommended eight hours of sleep, while 11 percent of school children ages 6 to 12 years old said they got less than the recommended nine hours of sleep, data released this week by city health officials shows.

The report suggests a link between too much screen time and a lack of sleep. School children are recommended to spend no more than two hours on electronic devices each day, but 53 percent said they spent more time than that on an average school day, according to the study. Likewise, the study found that 66 percent of high school adolescents exceeded the recommended four hours or less of screen time each day.

Lack of sleep has been associated with a higher prevalence of emotional and behavioral problems in both school children and adolescents. Teens who get an inadequate amount of sleep were more likely to report depressive symptoms, self-injury and suicidal tendencies during the past year compared to teens who got the recommended amount of sleep.

“New York is well known as the city that doesn’t sleep, but for our school children and adolescents, getting adequate sleep is a key part of maintaining emotional and physical wellbeing,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a press release.

Bassett said the city is making mental health awareness a top priority with ThriveNYC, a 54-initiative mental health roadmap led by First Lady Chirlane McCray.

“As the City expands mental health services through ThriveNYC, we ask parents to work with us in making sure our children spend less time on electronic devices and more time on getting a full night’s rest,” Bassett said in the press release.

The results of the study are from the 2015 New York City Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and the 2015 Child Health, Emotional Wellness and Development Survey (CHEWDS); the former is a biennial, self-administered and anonymous survey conducted by high school students, while the latter is a population-based telephone survey conducted by the Health Department among selected New York City households with at least one school-aged child. 

NYC Well, a cornerstone of ThriveNYC, is available 24/7, 365 days a year through phone, text, and chat. If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-888-NYC-WELL. More info here.

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