Staying up late is almost a rite of passage for teens, but night owl students could be paying the price with lower grades years after high school.
There’s plenty of research showing that the sleep-wake cycle of adolescents is about two hours behind that of pre-pubescent children, which means they are more likely to wake up later in the morning and go to bed later at night. And that also means they’re not well-timed with the school clock, either. But newly published research reveals that this mismatch may have lasting implications that dog high schoolers into their college years.
Younger students, aged 14-16, suffered both academically and emotionally, says the study’s lead author, Lauren Asarnow, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at UC Berkeley. They had worse cumulative GPA’s at graduation and more emotional distress, as measured by questionnaires post-graduation. The GPAs of the 16-18-year-olds didn’t suffer as much, possibly because they were more used to being sleep-deprived. However, they were more emotionally troubled than their early rising counterparts in college and beyond. They were more likely to report they were “sad,” “down, or “blue,” and said they cried frequently, or showed other symptoms of depression. “It is really important,” Asarnow says, “to get our teens to bed earlier and to start young.”
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