[ Watch the Video: Teens Who Sleep Earlier Perform Better At School ]
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
In a study of 2,700 middle and high school adolescents, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found that those who stay up later are more likely to struggle academically and emotionally.
In an analysis of the longitudinal data from the large study group, of which 30 percent reported bedtimes later than 11:30 pm on school days and 1:30 am in the summer, the team found by the time the students graduated those who slept less throughout the year had lower GPA scores and were more vulnerable to emotional problems than teens who went to bed early. They said their results add more weight to the argument schools should consider a later middle and high school start time.
“Academic pressures, busy after-school schedules, and the desire to finally have free time at the end of the day to connect with friends on the phone or online make this problem even more challenging,” Lauren Asarnow, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, said in a statement.
Asarnow added the findings highlight how a healthy sleep cycle can promote academic and emotional success.
“The good news is that sleep behavior is highly modifiable with the right support,” said Asarnow, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Golden Bear Sleep and Mood Research Clinic.
Researchers said going to bed late in the summertime did not negatively impact academic achievements. However, they did find a link between late summer bedtimes and emotional problems in young adulthood.
The team theorizes an “evening circadian presence” in adolescents is a confluence of biological factors, as well as parental monitoring, academic and social pressures and the use of electronic gadgetry.
“These findings underscore the significance of evaluating and monitoring bedtime in adolescents and the importance of intervention strategies that target bedtimes in an effort to reduce associated functional impairments, and improve academic and emotional outcomes,” the researchers wrote in the journal.
Another study at the same university found bright lights and laptops, smartphones and other electronic devices might suppress melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates sleep cycle. Dim lighting and limiting technology before bedtime may be one way for parents to help combat a night-owl.
‘This very important study adds to the already clear evidence that youth who are night owls are at greater risk for adverse outcomes,” UC Berkeley psychologist Allison Harvey, senior author of the paper, said in a statement. “Helping teens go to bed earlier may be an important pathway for reducing risk. This will not be an easy process. But here at Berkeley, our sleep coaches draw from the science of motivation, habit formation and sleep to help teens achieve earlier bedtimes.”