David Snyder

The science of sleep: how much are our high schoolers really getting?

It's been repeated so often it's become axiomatic: our high schoolers aren't getting enough sleep, which has negative consequences when they get to school in the morning. But how much sleep are they really getting?

A new study in the April issue of the Journal of School Health surveyed a random sample of 384 high school students from three schools in the Midwest, asking how much sleep they were getting and what influence they felt on days following less-than-adequate sleep. A whopping 91.9 percent responded that they got less than or equal to nine hours of sleep, which the study defined as inadequate. The most common effects of this, according to the students, were feeling tired during the day, lower grades, and an increase in stress.

The study points to the implementation of later start times in Minneapolis Public School District as one response to the issue, an acknowledgement that teenagers aren't prone to early bedtimes. But this step is difficult and controversial in many communities due in part to its affect on after-school activities, such as intramural sports.

What can be done to address the needs of sleepy teens?

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