A Solution for Sleep-Deprived Teens

African-American teenage girl sleeping in bed

It seems like headlines everywhere are decrying teen’s lack of sleep. Culprits include homework loads, extracurricular activities, caffeine consumption, evening screen time and school start times that are earlier than adolescents’ natural circadian rhythms. (BedTimes has certainly reported on many of these.)

But researchers at the University of Rochester in New York have studied a simple solution that yields results — a consistently enforced bedtime.

According to a university news release, the study found that parent-enforced bedtimes — along with later school start times — were the greatest predictors of longer sleep, higher energy levels and fewer depressive symptoms in teens. 

Researchers also discovered that more than half of the parents in the study provided no specific or enforced bedtimes, and, surprisingly, caffeine consumption and evening screen time did not affect the teens’ sleep duration.

Researchers acknowledged that setting bedtimes for teens might not be the easiest thing for parents.

“Ideally parents should be able to work collaboratively with their teenagers to develop bedtimes that still support the child’s autonomy,” said Jack Peltz, lead author of the study, which was published in the Nov. 29 issue of the journal Sleep.

But, ultimately, it’s up to parents to do what they can to support their child’s physical health. 

“Even though adolescents start gaining self-sufficiency and independence, they still need sleep and might not prioritize that if left to their own devices,” said Ronald Rogge, an associate professor of psychology at the university.

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