Teens need sleep

11 Mar

Lindsey Tanner, AP medical writer in a story which was reprinted at Seattle PI.Com reports on a study which says teens do better with later start times for school. In Study Shows Teens Benefit From Later School Day Tanner reports:

Giving teens 30 extra minutes to start their school day leads to more alertness in class, better moods, less tardiness, and even healthier breakfasts, a small study found.

“The results were stunning. There’s no other word to use,” said Patricia Moss, academic dean at the Rhode Island boarding school where the study was done. “We didn’t think we’d get that much bang for the buck.”

The results appear in July’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The results mirror those at a few schools that have delayed starting times more than half an hour.

Researchers say there’s a reason why even 30 minutes can make a big difference. Teens tend to be in their deepest sleep around dawn – when they typically need to arise for school. Interrupting that sleep can leave them groggy, especially since they also tend to have trouble falling asleep before 11 p.m….

Starting times were shifted from 8 to 8:30. All class times were cut 5 to 10 minutes to avoid a longer school day that would interfere with after-school activities. Moss said improvements in student alertness made up for that lost instruction time. [Emphasis Added]

Lack of sleep can be responsible for some illnesses.

The UK’s Daily Mail is reporting that not only does lack of sleep result in kids not being ready to learn, but may be an explanation for some mental illnesses.  In Online Night Owls ‘Risk Mental Illness’: Sleepless Nights Blamed For Rise in Teen Depression the Daily Mail reports:

Young people who become sleep deprived by using the internet into the small hours are much more likely to become mentally ill in later life, research shows.

Lack of sleep may help explain the puzzling increase in mental illness among young people in recent decades, according to an extensive study.

And regularly staying up late to surf the internet and chat on social networking sites could be one reason young people are sleeping less, according to the research.

The study of about 20,000 young people aged between 17 and 24 found that those who slept fewer than five hours a night were three times more likely than normal sleepers to become psychologically distressed in the next year.

Each hour of sleep lost was linked to a 14 per cent increased risk of distress, according to the results, published in the journal Sleep.

Professor Nicholas Glozier, who led the research, said: ‘Sleep disturbance and in particular insomnia is a predictor of later development of depression and possibly anxiety.’

Less sleep was also associated with longer-term mental health problems – which were the focus of the professor’s study.

A lot of mental ill-health comes and goes, he said. ‘It’s the ones who don’t get better that we are particularly interested in.’

It is important that children get enough sleep.

Vicki Abeles, director of the documentary “Race to Nowhere,”and Abigail A. Baird, associate professor of psychology at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Baird’s primary area of research focuses on the neurophysiology of adolescence are reporting in the Washington Post about the effect of sleep deprivation on teens. Abeles and Baird write in the article, Sleep deprivation and teens: ‘Walking zombies’:

Over the past several years we’ve created national guidelines for eating and exercise, shouldn’t we do the same for sleep?

We can also make changes in our schools, like advocating for later high school start times. An adolescent’s brain works on a different circadian rhythm than that of adults — theirs thrives with later wake-up times. After the start time at a high school in Edina, Minnesota, was changed from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., verbal SAT scores for the top 10 percent of students increased by several hundred points. The increase could not be attributed to any variable other than later start times.

Schools should also adopt block schedules and bring back study halls, both of which reduce the number of classes students must prepare for each day and give them more in-school time to complete academic assignments rather than requiring them to put in a grueling “second shift” after school.

So as Daylight Savings Time kicks in and we lose our annual hour of sleep, let’s make a pledge to help our children get the sleep they need to be happy, healthy, and successful in school and in their lives. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/sleep-deprivation-and-teens-walking-zombies/2012/03/10/gIQAr0QP3R_blog.html

The National Sleep Foundation (Sleep Foundation) has some great information about teens and sleep.

According to the Sleep Foundation:


  • Sleep is vital to your well-being, as important as the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat. It can even help you to eat better and manage the stress of being a teen.
  • Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence — meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm.
  • Teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night to function best (for some, 8 1/2 hours is enough). Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.
  • Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week — they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep.
  • Many teens suffer from treatable sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.


Not getting enough sleep or having sleep difficulties can:

  • Limit your ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems. You may even forget important information like names, numbers, your homework or a date with a special person in your life;
  • Make you more prone to pimples. Lack of sleep can contribute to acne and other skin problems;
  • Lead to aggressive or inappropriate behavior such as yelling at your friends or being impatient with your teachers or family members;
  • Cause you to eat too much or eat unhealthy foods like sweets and fried foods that lead to weight gain;
  • Heighten the effects of alcohol and possibly increase use of caffeine and nicotine; and
  • Contribute to illness, not using equipment safely or driving drowsy.


  • Make sleep a priority. Review Teen Time in this toolkit and keep the Teen Sleep Diary. Decide what you need to change to get enough sleep to stay healthy, happy, and smart!
  • Naps can help pick you up and make you work more efficiently, if you plan them right. Naps that are too long or too close to bedtime can interfere with your regular sleep.
  • Make your room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Let in bright light in the morning to signal your body to wake up.
  • No pills, vitamins or drinks can replace good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your sleep, so avoid coffee, tea, soda/pop and chocolate late in the day so you can get to sleep at night. Nicotine and alcohol will also interfere with your sleep.
  • When you are sleep deprived, you are as impaired as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%, which is illegal for drivers in many states. Drowsy driving causes over 100,000 crashes each year. Recognize sleep deprivation and call someone else for a ride. Only sleep can save you!
  • Establish a bed and wake-time and stick to it, coming as close as you can on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get in sync with its natural patterns. You will find that it’s easier to fall asleep at bedtime with this type of routine.
  • Don’t eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime. Don’t leave your homework for the last minute. Try to avoid the TV, computer and telephone in the hour before you go to bed. Stick to quiet, calm activities, and you’ll fall asleep much more easily!
  • If you do the same things every night before you go to sleep, you teach your body the signals that it’s time for bed. Try taking a bath or shower (this will leave you extra time in the morning), or reading a book.
  • Try keeping a diary or to-do lists. If you jot notes down before you go to sleep, you’ll be less likely to stay awake worrying or stressing.
  • When you hear your friends talking about their all-nighters, tell them how good you feel after getting enough sleep.
  • Most teens experience changes in their sleep schedules. Their internal body clocks can cause them to fall asleep and wake up later. You can’t change this, but you can participate in interactive activities and classes to help counteract your sleepiness. Make sure your activities at night are calming to counteract your already heightened alertness.

If teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep to do their best and naturally go to sleep around 11:00 pm, one way to get more sleep is to start school later.                                                                                                                                       http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

2 Responses to “Teens need sleep”


  1. Does school start too early? « drwilda - May 5, 2012

    […] The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. In order to accomplish this goal, all children must receive a good basic education and in order to achieve that goal, children must arrive at school, ready to learn. Moi wrote about the fact that school children need sleep in Teens need sleep https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/teens-need-sleep/ […]

  2. University of California at Berkeley Study: Staying up late hurts teen’s academic achievement | drwilda - November 17, 2013

    […] https://drwilda.com/2012/03/11/teens-need-sleep/ […]

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