Sleeping on Weekends Hurts Kids' Grades

WEDNESDAY, June 13 (HealthDay News) -- Many teens love sleeping in on weekends but their report cards may suffer, new research suggests.

Saturday morning snoozers were more likely to do poorly in school than teens who kept more regular sleep habits, concludes a U.S. study to be presented Wednesday at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting in Minneapolis.

"When teenagers stay up late and sleep in over the weekend, this behavior resets their (internal) daily clock to a later time," study author Stephanie J. Crowley, of Brown University in East Providence, R.I., explained in a prepared statement. "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 jet lag over the weekend even without getting on a plane."

She noted that many high school students don't get enough sleep during the school week and try to catch up on their sleep on weekends. In this study, Crowley examined circadian phase, sleep quality and morning vigilance before and after simulating this weekend sleep pattern in volunteers.

To avoid the weekend "jet lag" effect, teens should ensure they get the required amount of sleep every night of the week, Crowley said. It's recommended that teens get nine or more hours of sleep a night in order to maintain good health and optimum daytime performance.

Healthy sleep suggestions for teens include:

  • Get a full night's sleep on a regular basis. Don't stay up late to do homework, cram for an exam, etc. If extracurricular activities at school are too time-consuming, consider cutting back on them.
  • Get up at the same time every morning.
  • Try not to take naps after school. If you feel you do need to have a nap, don't sleep for more than an hour.
  • Don't read, write, eat, watch TV, talk on the phone, or play cards in bed.
  • Don't have any caffeine after lunch.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about teens and sleep.

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 13, 2007