Study Finds School Schedule Disruptive To Teen Sleeping Patterns

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Many teens are enjoying extra sleep over summer vacation, which may be exactly what their brains and bodies need. New recommendations say teens should be getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep nightly.

“They are flip-flopping between five days a week of insufficient sleep and major catch up on the weekends, which doesn’t work,” said Dr. Conrad Iber, Medical Director for the Fairview Sleep Program.

Dr. Iber is talking about a study on teen sleep heading back into the school year.

“On the first day of school when they are required to get up early, especially when there’s an early start time to school, they lose about 90 minutes of sleep,” Dr. Iber said.

He says sleep is a brain function, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong if you don’t get enough. Besides being tired, irritable and less productive, there are more serious consequences to teen sleep deprivation.

“Kids who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have a car accident,” Dr. Iber said.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Academy of Pediatrics say teens ages 13-18 should be getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night. To help reach that goal, Dr. Iber says we should enforce overall good habits.

“One study showed if you took teens on a camping trip right before school starts, it aligns their sleep better with what they are going to get in school because they have to wake up with the sun and go to bed with the sun,” Dr. Iber said. “Light is an extremely strong stimulus to the sleep clock.”

In lieu of going on a camping trip, begin to gradually have your teen get up earlier in the weeks leading back to school. Don’t drink caffeine after 3 p.m., and avoid using electronics after 9 to give teens a good wind-down time.

“The sleep clock is reinforced by a regular schedule. It’s good if that schedule resembles whatever it’s going to need to be when school starts,” Dr. Iber said.

Dr. Iber also says that after the age of 12, teens tend to go to bed later and wake up later. It’s not laziness, it’s actually their biology.

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