US/World

American Students Finally Rank First In The World; Unfortunately, It's For Being Sleep-Deprived

sleeping child
American children are not getting enough sleep, a new study suggests. Flickr/Amanda Tipton

A recent statistical analysis ranked American students as the most sleep-deprived among those in other countries around the world. So how does this impact their productivity in school?

Findings were part of two larger studies dubbed the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). Testing was conducted on 900,000 primary and secondary students from over 50 countries to assess their aptitude for math, science and reading, BBC reported.

Quantitative research was compared with surveys given to students, parents, and teachers to track sleeping patterns, nutritional intake, environmental factors, and performance output. Researchers from Boston College collected all the data to calculate a 46.5 percent worldwide average of sleep-deprived children.

Ranking in at number one was the United States with 73 percent of nine and 10-year-olds not getting enough sleep. Results also showed that 80 percent of 13- and 14-year-old students are also sleep deprived.

Rounding out the top countries with sleep-deprived children were New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and England.

"I think we underestimate the impact of sleep. Our data show that across countries internationally, on average, children who have more sleep achieve higher in maths, science and reading. That is exactly what our data show," Chad Minnich, of the TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center, told BBC.

During the hours you're asleep, the immune system releases proteins known as cytokines that help fight infection and inflammation. When production of these disease-fighting antibodies is limited, the immune system is more susceptible to disease.

A string of recent studies has marked the mental and physical limitations we inflict on ourselves when we deprive the body of sleep.

Testing conducted at the University of Pennsylvania examined what effect sleep deprivation has on cognitive abilities. "Following wakefulness in excess of 16 hours, deficits in attention and executive function tasks are demonstrable through well-validated testing protocols," authors of the comprehensive analysis said.

Experts recommend that school-aged children take in around nine or 10 hours of sleep a night and adults seven to eight hours.

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