Early to Bed, Early to Rise

by Robert Pondiscio
June 11th, 2010

Is it worth battling your child over bedtimes?  A new study shows that children who go to bed early and who have consistent bed times perform better on tasks predicting future reading and mathematics performance.  (H/T: Dan Willingham)

In the Wee Small Hours

by Robert Pondiscio
June 9th, 2009

An NIH study of over 15,000 teenagers shows a link between sleep and mental health.  “Teens whose parents let them stay up after midnight on weeknights have a much higher chance of being depressed or suicidal than teens whose parents enforce an earlier bedtime,” notes USA Today’s Greg Toppo

The findings are the first to examine bedtimes’ effects on kids’ mental health — and the results are noteworthy. Middle- and high-schoolers whose parents don’t require them to be in bed before midnight on school nights are 42% more likely to be depressed than teens whose parents require a 10 p.m. or earlier bedtime. And teens who are allowed to stay up late are 30% more likely to have had suicidal thoughts in the past year.  The differences are smaller but still significant — 25% and 20%, respectively — after controlling for age, sex, race and ethnicity.

Going to bed after midnight on weeknights reportedly increases the risk of depression by 42%.  The lead researcher, Columbia University Medical Center’s James Gangwisch, says the takeaway for parents is “try as much as possible to sell teenagers on the importance of getting enough sleep.”

Hey, it’s his study, but I have to wonder: Perhaps the difference-maker isn’t the sleep, but having a bedtime?  Is it possible that parents who set rules and routines for their children such asregular bedtimes are more involved in their kids’ lives?  Maybe their kids are less likely to feel adrift and depressed as a result.



To Sleep, Perchance to Teach

by Robert Pondiscio
September 25th, 2008

More than four out of ten teachers report sleeping six hours or less per night, according to researchers at Ball State University.  Nearly half admit to missing work or making mistakes due to “serious lack of sleep,” according to the report in Teacher Magazine.

While the study doesn’t correlate teachers’ reported sleep problems with instructional quality or student performance, the researchers speculated that the potential effects on schools could be significant, based on what is known about job performance and lack of sleep. ‘Sleepy teachers are at higher risk of providing insufficient supervision and inferior classroom instruction,’ notes Denise Amschler, a professor of physiology and health sciences and co-author of the study.

It’s not discussed in the report, but I’ve often wondered if sleep deprivation is a factor in poor teacher retention rates, particularly in low-achieving schools. The relentless push for high achievement often feels physically unsustainable. It is very easy to find yourself going weeks on very few hours of sleep per night.