Though the Canadian Pediatric Society recommends teenagers get nine to 10 hours of sleep per night, a new study challenges that notion. It says seven hours is best.
Your teenager treats his alarm’s snooze button like a slightly annoying gnat buzzing about his head during a pleasant dream. He’s seldom on time for school. (For Whom the Bell Tolls is the nickname bestowed upon him by the school librarian.) He tells you he needs more sleep.
9 to 10 hours a night?
The Canadian Pediatric Society agrees with him. They say that “most sleepy teens simply do not get enough sleep.” They recommend between nine and 10 hours of sleep every day. But a new study at Brigham Young University (BYU) economic professors challenges this notion.
More like 7 hours a night
They found that 16- to 18-year-olds perform better academically when they get seven hours of sleep a night. The BYU researchers also pointed out that too little sleep has detrimental effects.
They were critical of the way in which studies that led to the current guidelines were structured: teens were simply told to keep sleeping until they felt satisfied. Eric Eide, the BYU study author, said, “If you used that same approach for a guideline on how much people should eat, you would put them in a well-stocked pantry and just watch how much they ate until they felt satisfied.”
Right amount of sleep = better test scores
Their study, the first in a series of studies to examine sleep and its impact on health and education, analyzed data from a representative sample of 1,724 primary and secondary school students across the US. They found a strong relationship between the amount of sleep and performance on standardized tests.
But the surprise was that more sleep wasn’t necessarily better. Their findings suggest that the right amount of sleep decreases with age. And they suggested that “an 80-minute shift toward the optimum is comparable to the child’s parents completing about one more year of schooling.”
The right amount of sleep
- 10-year-olds—9 to 9.5 hours
- 12-year-olds—8 to 8.5 hours
- 16-year-olds—7 hours