UC Berkeley Study on Teens and Sleep

From The Huffington Post:

During the four-year study, researchers are working with hundreds of 10 to 18-year-olds who have trouble falling asleep and waking up.

“Adults are good with eight hours of sleep, but because teenage minds and bodies are developing so rapidly, they should be getting about nine,” explained Allison Harvey, the principle investigator in the study and a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, to The Huffington Post. 

During each semester of the ongoing study, researchers invite several dozen teens who suffer from sleep deprivation to a “slumber party” on campus. Teens are then paired with "sleep coaches" who monitor hormone levels and sleeping habits and patterns. The teens also attend workshops about habits to promote a good night's rest, including meditation, creating a tech-free zone and other methods outlined in the slideshow below.

Harvey also hopes that with concrete results, researchers might have a stronger case for pushing back school start times, which they argue are too early. 

The National Sleep Foundation suggests that most teens get nine hours and 15 minutes per night, and recent studies have tied sleep deprivation to depression, obesity, heart disease and low birth weight. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that only 8 percent of teens were getting the recommend amount of sleep.

"It's very, very clear," said Harvey. "We think better and we feel better when we're sleeping well."


Anonymous said…
I've seen this subject come up numerous times and I just have to ask...what is the difference between teens today and when I was a teen (about 20 years ago)? Seriously...I don't recall classmates falling asleep in class or not doing well and certainly there were kids who had to get up for 630am swim or basketball practice because that was the only time they could get in.

I am seriously asking the question...is it really that high a percentage of teens or is it just a significant number that are just naturally hardwired to be more of a night owl? I don't think anyone can categorically say it's all teenagers.

At what point are kids just going to have to learn to adjust instead of everyone adjusting to them? They are going to have a really skewed perspective about the real world.

Anonymous said…

Sounds like it's 92% of teens who are sleep-deprived. Count mine in that group - they just can't turn their brains off before 11 or 12.

Times change. I rode in the compartment behind the back seat of my parent's VW bug when there were too many people in the car. Now we know better - we have laws requiring seat belts and car seats. I think that's an improvement.

My 15 year old needs to be getting more driving practice. The morning drive to school would be ideal - but he's so tired it would be unsafe. Same thing in the afternoon. I was really looking forward to the day he could drive to school - but I can't see how that will happen.

I don't think the adult work (outside of school staff) would be affected by starting high schools later. What am I missing?

Anonymous said…
Thanks Lynn.

That is a pretty high number. I'm inclined to think it's not all biological. We CHOOSE to be busier and as a result, my elementary aged kids are at times tired and sleep deprived, as am I.

I have to wonder how much of it is the technology that is all around us, the competitive nature to do all sorts of extracurriculars, and the consumption of caffeine starting at a young age (teens going to Starbucks after school for a frappaccino fix? Cannot be good for regulating good sleep habits). I haven't delved into the data but I have to believe that it is not simply because we know better but because we have cultivated this need to cram too much into our lives, resulting in more than just teens being sleep deprived. Yes, times have changed.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said…

Are your teenagers early birds? Honestly, I can't express how much our lives would be improved by a 9 or 9:30 or 10 high school (and middle school) start time.

Anonymous said…

My kids are not teens yet and they are not currently early birds. Thank goodness I don't have 6am risers! That said, a 930/10am start would affect their activities/sports after school as it already does with the 925 late start. We have little to no down time and we have to pick up directly from school in order to make the start time. By the time they're in middle school and high school, I expect that it will be even harder to fit in homework time and sports/music with such a late start. Homework in the morning just doesn't seem realistic and seems last minute. I guess we'll see...I may have to eat my words and wish I had said otherwise. =)
KP,I DO remember a lot of sleepy people in zero period (me included). No one is saying they get this treatment as adults but yes, teens are wired differently and the research is there in spades to prove that. Whether we care to act on that knowledge is another thing.

KP, also good points on caffeine and technology.

Lynn, there was one study - out of Kentucky I think - about how the teen driving accident rate went down when a number of high schools changed their start times. Maybe coincidence, maybe more sleep.
Anonymous said…
“Most adolescents undergo a sleep phase delay, which means a tendency toward later times for both falling asleep and waking up. Research shows the typical adolescent’s natural time to fall asleep may be 11 pm or later; because of this change in their internal clocks, teens may feel wide awake at bedtime, even when they are exhausted (Wolfson & Carskadon, 1998)”

We may think that teens should just suck it up & do their duty to our schedules, but further research shows the benefits to accommodating their body clocks.

Significant academic improvement has been documented in districts that moved start times later & the most improvement was seen in the kids who were performing lowest.

sleep-school performance

Also decreased dropout rate, absences, tardies, school discipline, & nurse visits. Had no affect on after-school sports participation rates. But associated with lower sports injury rates & improved athletic performance. Also kids who have more sleep are more efficient & get their homework done faster. Sleep in Fairfax research

And not school related, but decrease in depression & anxiety, decrease in teen car accidents, decrease in teen violent crime, decrease in cold & flu rates, decrease in obesity & sleep disorder rates. Teens Need Sleep Files

-Start Later
Anonymous said…
Twenty (ok, 30) years ago, I had one of the earliest bedtimes of my friends (thanks a lot, mom) and I fell asleep in class often. I even grew my hair out long enough to hide my eyes, and became skilled at holding a book upright while sleeping. I also chose seats in the back of the class - maybe the ones sleeping on your classes were stilling behind you. :)
Anyway, anecdotes aside, others have pointed out there's real science behind this.

~never caught up
SusanH said…
Why do we keep talking about this and talking about this and reading research study after research study and it's ALL proven to help test scores and graduation rates and overall health and aaargh!!!! No one listens. Has SPS ever had an opinion, or a thoughtful response?? I sign petitions that go nowhere and it's all very depressing.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

COVID Issues Heating up for Seattle Public Schools