A qualitative exploration of adolescent perceptions of healthy sleep in Tucson, Arizona, USA

Kathryn M. Orzech

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    Adolescents in the United States are known to be sleep deprived; early school start times, a biological propensity to stay up late, and a variety of wake-inducing activities lead to teens who often do not sleep enough. This chronic lack of sleep has measurable negative effects on health and well-being for adolescents. Though research has documented adolescent sleep behavior, few studies have addressed perceptions of sleep. The purpose of this study was to identify common sources of sleep information for a sample of Southwestern adolescents and examine general message content delivered to adolescents by each source. A convenience sample of 51 adolescents (mean age 14.5) completed a semi-structured, in-person interview between October 2006 and November 2007 in a Tucson, Arizona high school. Participant observation and a brief questionnaire regarding parent behavior were used to triangulate results. Parents, teachers, and in some cases the media stressed the importance of sleep for teens, while friends typically complained of tiredness. Individual experiences of sleep were reported to shape future sleep behavior. Rationales for adequate sleep included value placed on alertness, health, and achievement. Improving sleep in adolescents will not only require further education of the "sleep messengers" about the negative health consequences of inadequate sleep, but a larger cultural shift in how healthy sleep for teenagers is conceived and prioritized by schools, families and adolescents themselves.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)109-116
    Number of pages8
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


    • Adolescent
    • Adolescent Behavior
    • Arizona
    • Attitude to Health
    • Cultural Characteristics
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Male
    • Models, Psychological
    • Qualitative Research
    • Sleep
    • Sleep Deprivation


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