Results present compelling argument for later middle and high school start times.
Teenagers who go to bed late during the school year are more prone to academic and emotional difficulties in the long run, compared to their earlier-to-bed counterparts, according to a new study from UC Berkeley.
Berkeley researchers analyzed longitudinal data from a nationally representative cohort of 2,700 U.S. adolescents of whom 30 percent reported bedtimes later than 11:30 p.m. on school days and 1:30 a.m. in the summer in their middle and high school years.
By the time they graduated from high school, the school-year night owls had lower GPA scores, and were more vulnerable to emotional problems than teens with earlier bedtimes, according to the study published online today (Nov.10) in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
The results present a compelling argument in favor of later middle and high school start times in the face of intense academic, social and technological pressures, researchers said.
“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,” said Lauren Asarnow, lead author of the study and a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Golden Bear Sleep and Mood Research Clinic.
On a positive note, she said the findings underscore how a healthy sleep cycle promotes the academic and emotional success of adolescents.
“The good news is that sleep behavior is highly modifiable with the right support,” said Asarnow, citing UC Berkeley’s Teen Sleep Study, a treatment program designed to reset the biological clocks of adolescents who have trouble going to sleep and waking up.