Aim: The objective of this study is to describe the sleep patterns of secondary school students in New Zealand.
Methods: This study uses data from a national secondary school youth health survey conducted in 2001. A total of 9567 students completed the survey with an overall response rate of 64.3%. Students were asked if they felt they got enough sleep and the numbers of sleep hours were estimated from self-reported bedtimes and awakening times during the week and weekend.
Results: A significant proportion (21%) of students reported not getting enough sleep. Inadequate sleep was more common among older students and female students of Maori and New Zealand European ethnicity. The average amount of sleep secondary school students report in New Zealand is 8 h and 40 min during the week and 9 h and 23 min during the weekend. There was a shift towards later bedtimes and fewer total sleep hours among older students. Increasing hours of extracurricular activities and employment were generally associated with less sleep, especially among students engaging in more than 5 h a day of these activities.
Conclusions: Significant numbers of secondary school students report inadequate sleep. Given the importance of adequate sleep on healthy adolescent development, parents and health professionals should be wary of the amount of extracurricular activities that young people engage in, especially part-time employment and the potential negative impact it may have on the adequacy of their sleep.