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Health Educ Res. 1993 Mar;8(1):69-80.

How young Europeans sleep.

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University of Jyväskylä, Department of Health Sciences, Finland.


This study investigated sleeping habits, difficulties in being able to fall asleep and their connections to self-reported health conditions, as well as other selected health behaviours and use of leisure time, among 11-16 year old Europeans from 11 countries. The study was part of a larger, comparative, WHO coordinated project on the health and life-style of school children (Health Behaviour of School Age Children--A WHO Cross-National Survey, The HBSC Study). In most of the countries, research data were collected from samples representative of the whole country. Using a standardized survey questionnaire, the data were collected anonymously in schools. Altogether 40,202 students responded to the survey. Sleeping habits and an inability to fall asleep varied significantly between countries as well as between age groups but only slightly between the sexes. Finnish school children experienced the most difficulty in being able to fall asleep. After the Israeli youth, the Finnish school children had the shortest night's sleep. At least a fifth of Finnish and Norwegian school children also reported that they felt tired almost every morning, the corresponding figure being smaller in other countries. A frequent use of psychoactive substances (alcohol and tobacco), lack of physical activity, excessive watching of TV/videos together with numerous evenings spent outside the home were all connected with going to bed late as well as with frequent difficulty in not being able to fall asleep. The results of the study offer an important challenge to health promotion and health education. Much more attention must be paid to this essential and exciting health habit!

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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