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Q: Amount of sleep for adolescents ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Amount of sleep for adolescents
Category: Health > Children
Asked by: kellyo-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 29 Oct 2002 17:04 PST
Expires: 28 Nov 2002 17:04 PST
Question ID: 92612
How much sleep does a 13 year old boy need? Is 8 hours, nightly,
adequate? Though there was much talk a few years back about teenagers'
internal clocks shifting into a later cycle, with the resulting
difficulty in getting them up at typical school times, does current
research support this claim?  I'm arguing that a 10 pm bedtime is
reasonable for our 13 y.o. who gets up at 6:30. My husband would
rather let him stay up until 11 pm.  Though he's doing well in school
(he always has), he tends to fall asleep during the 1/2 hour trip to
and from school.  To me, this indicates he might not be getting to bed
early enough.
I'd like an answer that's based on current research and that suggests
ways to tell if your child is getting enough sleep.  Thank you!
Subject: Re: Amount of sleep for adolescents
Answered By: pwizard-ga on 29 Oct 2002 18:15 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings kellyo,

Your question is an excellent one and one that I'm sure many parents
have asked themselves at one time or another. I've done some research
on your question and have come up with several articles I think will
interest you. I will list the links to those articles along with some
interesting excerpts. I tried to find the most current data that's
relevant to your question.

The first set of articles I found were on TeensHealth
( and dated November 2001. They basically
were answering the questions "Why Do I Need So Much Sleep?" and "How
Do I Know If I'm Getting Enough?". They seemed to backup the research
from previous years that you mentioned:

"studies found that most teens need about 9 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep to
avoid behaviors associated with sleep deprivation. These behaviors
include falling asleep in class, difficulty waking up in the morning,
inability to concentrate, and even depression. Evidence shows that
during your teen years, your body's circadian (pronounced:
sir-kay-dee-en) rhythms (sort of like an internal biological clock)
are reset, telling you to fall asleep later and wake up later. Unlike
kids and adults, whose bodies tell them to go to sleep and wake up
earlier, most teens' bodies are telling them to live like a vampire:
go to sleep late at night and sleep well into the afternoon. In fact,
more than 50% of students report being most alert after 3:00 pm. It
also seems that melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep, is
produced at different times of the day for teens than it is for kids
and adults. Your melatonin levels may be high when you're supposed to
be waking up and going to school."

They go on to mention that several middle and high-school classes have
begun starting their classes later in the morning to offer the kids
more sleep. They also list several things teens can do to get more
sleep at night and to also tell if they're getting to bed on time.

Full Article:

Related Article:

Along that same line, I found another article written in May 2002
entitled "School vs. Sleep" where the author looks at those schools
that have implemented later start times and the effects on the
students. He notes that "Studies going back to 1989 conclude that high
school students need more sleep than preteens do -- about nine hours.
And their natural sleep cycles mean they need to be asleep between 5
and 7 a.m." He also found that "A 1998-99 survey conducted by Danner
in Fayette County found that moving the start time one hour later for
adolescents resulted in meaningful increases in sleep time, an
increase in the percentage of students who got an adequate amount of
sleep and a decrease in catch-up sleep on weekends. Those surveys
showed the number of students who got at least eight hours of sleep on
a weeknight increased from 69.6 percent to 78.9 percent in middle
schools, and from 19.6 percent to 42.2 percent in high schools."

Full Article:

The National Sleep Foundation is a good resource for finding
information on sleep related articles. I found two good pages:

Adolescent Sleep: Pointers for Parents

Seven Sleep-Smart Tips for Teens

From everything I have read, it looks like teens truly do have
different sleep needs than younger children and adults. Setting rules
for when your teenage whould go to sleep should probably be based on
when they have to wake up for school. Their "internal clock" would
probably prefer that they go to sleep at your husband's time of 11pm,
but if he is having to awake at 6:30am, 10 or 10:30pm would probably
be a better choice. With all of the current studies floating around on
the positive outcome of later school start times for adolescents,
we'll probably start to see more and more schools adopt these
policies. If you're an active member of your school PTA or know
someone on the school board, you might bring this to their attention
to be considered. I can provide you with additional links to studies
on school start times if you would like them.

I've included a couple of more links at the bottom of this answer that
I invite you to read. I hope I've helped to answer your question
regarding sleep for your teenage son. Please don't hesitate to "ask
for clarification" if you need additional assistance on this question
or need to ask a follow-up question. I'll be happy to assist you
further. Thanks!


WEBMD: Later Starting Times Help Students Catch Up

Healthy Sleep Habits for Adolescents
kellyo-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Wow! That was quick! Just after submitting my question, I began to
wonder whether I could have just as easily found my answer on my own
with a little web surfing.  Probably, but considering time is a rare
commodity in my life, this was very much worthwhile - I received an
answer in just two hours.  This answer was just what I was looking for
(and not just to settle an argument).  Hopefully others might find the
information useful too!

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