If you have a teenager you know that there are about 39,847 things easier than waking one up in the morning. Sleep is something they can do very, very well. And they need it.
Often academic pressures and busy, brim-full lives mean that sometimes teens & college students are tempted to steal from their sleeping hours to squeeze in studying time for tests and assignments the next day. That decision might actually be counterproductive: A recent study reveals that the sleep/study trade-off might not be as helpful as we think.
Researchers studied high schoolers longitudinally during their four years of high school and found that, especially for those in the later two years of high school, sessions of extra, burn-the-midnight-oil studying were actually associated with worse academic performance the next day. They found that no matter how much time the student typically studies (or the amount of sleep she usually gets), if she sacrifices sleep to study more than usual she will be more likely to struggle on a test or in understanding concepts the following day*. In other words, consistency is key and don't throw bedtime out the window.
Turns out that those vital sleep routines are not just for toddlers after all! A teenage version might not be a bad idea, especially if it includes a consistent bed time and a distraction-free bedroom (meaning those pesky, message-chirpy phones would be better off elsewhere over night).
*Now, mind you, I haven't personally researched this but I would venture to say that if the student hasn't done any studying but sleeps a lot, that's probably not the key to academic success either.
Other sleep studies reveal that:
- students who sleep more hours on average fare much better academically and have both higher grades and better school behaviors.
- that the hormone that controls ovulation/testosterone production in teens is released during deep sleep,
- and that sleep-deprived students had lower levels of testosterone and were less motivated to call out a cheater or notice errors on a computer test. And more likely to take more risks.
- Big kids and teens actually need at least 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night.