The behavioral and health consequences of sleep deprivation among U.S. high school students: relative deprivation matters

Prev Med. 2014 Jun;63:24-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.03.006. Epub 2014 Mar 11.


Objective: To evaluate whether the strength of the association between sleep deprivation and negative behavioral and health outcomes varies according to the relative amount of sleep deprivation experienced by adolescents.

Methods: 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data of high school students (N=15,364) were analyzed. Associations were examined on weighted data using logistic regression. Twelve outcomes were examined, ranging from weapon carrying to obesity. The primary independent variable was a self-reported measure of average number of hours slept on school nights.

Results: Participants who reported deprivations in sleep were at an increased risk of a number of negative outcomes. However, this varied considerably across different degrees of sleep deprivation. For each of the outcomes considered, those who slept less than 5h were more likely to report negative outcomes (adjusted odds ratios ranging from 1.38 to 2.72; p<.05 across all models) relative to sleeping 8 or more hours. However, less extreme forms of sleep deprivation were, in many instances, unrelated to the outcomes considered.

Conclusions: Among U.S. high school students, deficits in sleep are significantly and substantively associated with a variety of negative outcomes, and this association is particularly pronounced for students achieving fewer than 5h of sleep at night.

Keywords: Adolescence; Antisocial behavior; Health; Sleep deprivation; Substance use.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Weapons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult