sleep problems were common among Japanese adolescents. It also stated that being female, a student in senior high school, and having an unhealthy lifestyle, which included stress, smoking, and drinking alcohol, were risk factors for those problems. The study also concluded that there was a need for health education aimed at solving Japanese adolescents’ sleep problems.

Cultural, Socioeconomic, and Environmental Differences Affecting Sleep

Though it’s true that sleep deprivation and sleep disturbances are the bane of teenagers everywhere, different factors do contribute to the problems. For example, researchers who looked at data for a World Health Organization study of health behaviors, reported by Tynjala et al., found that teenagers slept longer in countries in which parents seemed to be stricter. A study of ethnocultural differences in the sleep complaints of adolescents in nine ethnocultural groups, performed by R. E. Roberts et al. and reported in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, found that Chinese American teens had a significantly lower risk for insomnia than Anglo teens and that Mexican American teens had an increased risk compared to Anglos. African, Mexican, and Central American adolescents had an increased risk for hypersomnia, a condition in which a person sleeps excessively, and no group was at a lower risk for hypersomnia than the Anglo kids. The study suggested that minority status may affect the risk for sleep problems.

In Japan, which you’ve already read is a very sleep-deprived nation, hours in front of the TV as well as business pressures and social norms appear to be factors in people’s lack of sleep. Many workers who put in long hours because of downsizing and restructuring often work well into the evening, then go out with colleagues for drinks, and then watch several hours of TV before heading for bed. A recent Eurodata TV Worldwide study reported that Japanese people average more than five hours a day watching television, more than people in any other country.

Here in the United States, an ongoing study at the University of Maryland may eventually provide data that could be applied worldwide. The study is examining the relationship between adolescent

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