June 10, 2008 Insufficient sleep among adolescents may not only contribute to lower grades and a lack of motivation, but may also increase the odds of serious levels of emotional and behavioral disturbances, including ADHD, according to a research abstract that will be presented on June 9 at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, authored by Fred Danner, PhD, of the University of Kentucky, focused on 882 high school freshmen who provided information about their sleep habits and school grades and also completed psychological and behavioral assessments.
According to the results, students reported sleeping, on average, 7.6 hours per school night, with 48 percent reporting less than eight hours. Hours of sleep per school night were significantly positively associated with GPA and level of motivation, and significantly negatively associated with clinically significant levels of emotional disturbance and ADHD. Each additional hour of sleep on school nights lowered the odds of scoring in the clinically significant range of emotional disturbance and ADHD by 25 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
"Since these findings are based on associations rather than direct experimental manipulation, they cannot conclusively prove that insufficient sleep causes a loss of motivation, poor grades, ADHD, and emotional disturbance during adolescence," said Dr. Danner. "The results, however, are consistent with a growing body of research that many adolescents do not get sufficient sleep and that even mild chronic sleep deprivation has serious effects on their psychological functioning. Lack of sleep should no longer be considered a traditional adolescent rite of passage because it can have serious consequences."
It is recommended that adolescents get nine hours of nightly sleep.
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