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Global prevalence of sleep deprivation in students and heavy media use


The latest two international educational assessments found global prevalence of sleep deprivation in students, consistent with what has been reported in sleep research. However, despite the fundamental role of adequate sleep in cognitive and social functioning, this important issue has been largely overlooked by educational researchers. Drawing upon evidence from sleep research, literature on the heavy media use by children and adolescents, and data from web analytics on youth-oriented game sites and mobile analytics on youth-oriented game apps, we argue that heavy media use, particularly digital game play, may be an important contributor to sleep deprivation in students. Therefore, educational researchers, policy makers, teachers, and parents should pay greater attention to student sleep and develop programs and interventions to improve both quality and quantity of student sleep.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    The 12 major educational research journals we examined include Educational Researcher, American Educational Research Journal, Review of Educational Research, Journal of the Learning Sciences, Learning and Instruction, Instructional Science, Elementary School Journal, British Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Educational Psychologist, and Journal of Education Policy, six major subject-specific journals, including Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, International Journal of Science Education, Reading Research Quarterly, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, and Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, seven major educational technology journals, including Computers & Education, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, British Journal of Educational Technology, Educational Technology & Society, Educational Technology Research and Development, Learning Media and Technology, and Interactive Learning Environments, and five journals that focus on educational administration and school improvement, including Education and Urban Society, Educational Administration Quarterly, Educational Management Administration & Leadership, School Effectiveness and School Improvement, and Improving Schools.

  2. 2.

    Data was retrieved from on September 20, 2014.

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    Data was retrieved from and on January 16, 2015.

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    Data was retrieved from on January 20, 2015.

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    Data was retrieved from on January 20, 2015.

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    Data was retrieved from on September 20, 2014. Distimo is a mobile Analytics company.


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Correspondence to Meilan Zhang.

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Zhang, M., Tillman, D.A. & An, S.A. Global prevalence of sleep deprivation in students and heavy media use. Educ Inf Technol 22, 239–254 (2017).

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  • Sleep deprivation
  • Media use
  • Game play
  • Academic performance
  • School-aged youth