Teenagers who stay up late on school nights and make up for it by sleeping late on weekends are more likely to perform poorly in the classroom. This is because, on weekends, they are waking up at a time that is later than their internal body clock expects. The fact that their clock must get used to a new routine may affect their ability to be awake early for school at the beginning of the week when they revert back to their old routine, according to new research.
The study, conducted by Stephanie J. Crowley of Brown University in East Providence, Rhode Island, was based on the fact that high school students' sleep is typically restricted during the school week and is compensated by late and long sleep on weekends. It examined circadian phase, sleep quality and morning vigilance before and after simulating this weekend sleep pattern.
"When teenagers stay up late and sleep in over the weekend, this behavior resets their daily clock to a later time," said Crowley. "This resetting can push back the brain's cue to be awake on Monday morning for school. As a result, teens may feel worse and have poor performance in school at the beginning of the week. Essentially, teenagers may be giving themselves jetlag over the weekend even without getting on a plane."
The best way for teenagers to prevent late and long sleep on weekends is to ensure that they are getting the required amount of sleep each night. Experts recommend that teenagers get about nine or more hours of sleep each night to achieve good health and optimum performance.
Teens are advised to follow these recommendations:
Those who think they might have a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician, who will refer them to a sleep specialist..
An abstract of this research was presented June 13 at SLEEP 2007, the 21st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
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