Sleep Deprivation in High Schools Around the World

Table: BEHAV1105
Experimentation location: School, Home
Regulated Research (Form 1c): No
Project continuation (Form 7): Yes

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Sleep has a powerful impact on the body in order to establish a stable internal environment. It is responsible for keeping both the body and mind performing at their maximum capacity. It also energizes the body and mind to confront the challenging demands of everyday life. The goal of my survey is to amplify the perspective on how sleep trends, time management, and mood differ in different counties. This 16 question survey was distributed to nine different high schools (grades 9 to 12) in different countries including; the USA, Colombia, Japan, Bangladesh, Singapore, Mexico, Uganda, Belgium, and Ghana for a total of 999 responses. According to my survey, students are sleeping an average of 7.31 hours a night, which is less than the recommended 8 to 9 hours for teenagers. Only 11.61% said they are not sleep deprived while 44.68% said that their mental health is affected by a lack of sleep and deal with fatigue and emotional instability on a daily basis. Homework, procrastination, phones/social media, and mental health were the main reasons behind sleep deprivation but varied in degree between countries. My research studies the variability of sleep around the globe and how the perception of sleep quantity and quality varies in different schools depending on the culture and overall perspective.



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Project files

Research Plan:

Research has been done on sleep and the effects of sleep deprivation as well as the relationship between sleep and mental disorders. However, it is incomprehensible why schools, parents and even teens themselves continue to over schedule their days by taking on an unmanageable amount of work, leading to sleep cycle delays and eventually, exposure to the effects of sleep deprivation. Research is needed to really understand the reasons that lead to a severe lack of sleep within the student body as well as the international differences in sleeping habits within teens. This study will bring an overall perspective to the reasons why teens are sleep deprived and the effects that this deprivation is bringing upon their everyday life.

Teaching methods in schools and lifestyle choices at home will change time slept. I hypothesize that having a more challenging academic life and more time spent on extracurriculars will lead to less sleep and a greater negative effect on mood. The survey will assess the amount of sleep students get, the amount of time spent on homework per night as well as time spent on other daily activities. Stress levels and the symptoms of sleep deprivation will also be rated. This data will be gathered by creating a survey that will efficiently ask students from different schools to answer, generating both quantitative and qualitative data. Statistical analysis will be utilized to explore correlations between these different factors. Graphs will be created to present the findings of each country as well as the comparisons between the countries.

A replenished brain after a good sleep is active, relaxed, and way happier than an exhausted brain. A lot of research has been done on the science of sleep and the effects of sleep deprivation on mental performance. However, further research is needed to really understand the reasons that lead to a severe lack of sleep within the student population as well as the international differences in sleeping habits within teens. Analyzing the sleep patterns of different countries will reveal trends between academic focus and sleeping habits within the students. It will also bring an overall perspective to the reasons why teens are sleep deprived.

I created a survey that assesses sleeping patterns, and includes questions about the amount of sleep, bedtimes and wake times. This survey would be directly sent to schools for completion. I will ask participants how important sleep is to them and if their parents have spoken to them about sleep habits. The survey will highlight which sleep deprivation symptoms are experienced by asking students to rate how prevalent the symptom is in their everyday lives. The responses will be used to analyze correlations between the variables of mood, sleep, and academic involvement. The survey will be sent to the following countries: US, Colombia, Japan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Uganda, Mexico, Singapore, and Belgium.

First, schools will be contacted in the US, Colombia, Japan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Uganda, Mexico, Singapore, and Belgium. Once I get approval from the school administrator or principal, the survey would be sent out and the results would be received by me. I expect 50-60% participation from one school in each country. Once surveys are in, results will be analyzed. The last step will be to compare the data of each country and find major differences or similarities in the data between each country.


Questions and Answers

1. What was the major objective of your project and what was your plan to achieve it? 

    a. Was that goal the result of any specific situation, experience, or problem you encountered?  

  • My project idea came from a combination of two things. One, I am someone that has moved around my entire life, living in countries such as Colombia, Brazil, England, and Japan, so I have always been drawn to the idea of cultural differences and how lifestyles change depending on different cultures and countries. Two, after my own experience with sleep deprivation at the beginning of high school, I decided that it was something that educators and parents were not paying enough attention to.

    b. Were you trying to solve a problem, answer a question, or test a hypothesis?

  • I think sleep deprivation in the teen population is a problem that needs to be addressed.

2. What were the major tasks you had to perform in order to complete your project?

    a. For teams, describe what each member worked on.

  • The main thing that came with starting my project was figuring out how to contact and get permission from schools to distribute my survey. I contacted over fifty schools and got responses from nine schools. After getting all of my data, I have been working hard to analyze and draw conclusions from it.

3. What is new or novel about your project?

    a. Is there some aspect of your project's objective, or how you achieved it that you haven't done before?

  • This is the first time that I have designed my own research project and carried it out as well. It was the first time I designed my own survey and was in charge of distributing it and analyzing it.

    b. Is your project's objective, or the way you implemented it, different from anything you have seen?

  • My project’s objective of analyzing the variables of sleep, mood, and academic performance in high school students in different countries is something that I have not seen anywhere else.

    c. If you believe your work to be unique in some way, what research have you done to confirm that it is?

  • My research has concluded that there are no studies that directly compare the three variables of sleep, mood, and academic performance in students, especially comparing it internationally.


4. What was the most challenging part of completing your project?

   a. What problems did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?

  • The first problem I encountered was not getting answers from schools when I would contact them regarding my survey. I overcame this problem by realizing that I had to branch out a lot and not limit myself to certain schools. I ended up reaching out to about fifty schools to get responses from about fifteen.
  • I also encountered challenges when I was analyzing my data due to my inexperience with statistical analysis and drawing conclusions from my data as well as learning to use excel. I have overcome this problem with the help of my mentor and practice.

   b. What did you learn from overcoming these problems?

  • Overcoming these problems has given me a better idea of how to approach research and what I can do differently next time I design a survey.


5. If you were going to do this project again, are there any things you would you do differently the next time?

  • If I were going to do this project again, I would redesign the questions in my survey so that I could get more quantitative data rather than qualitative data. There are certain questions that would have been easier to analyze and compare if I had worded and designed them differently.


6. Did working on this project give you any ideas for other projects? 

  • I have always been very interested in cultural differences, especially in education and how it is different in various cultures or countries. This project gave me the idea to research different education systems in other countries, and the type of lifestyle that high school students lead depending on their culture.


7. How did COVID-19 affect the completion of your project?

  • Thankfully, I was able to get responses from nine schools before Covid. I had four schools in other countries that were ready to distribute my survey when Covid hit, after that they were unable to distribute my survey. Results of sleep behaviors post-Covid would have also been different so it would have made my data inconsistent.