Sleep is very important for adolescents’ health. Sleep of 7 hours or longer can improve their learning ability, memory of new knowledge, and reduce motor vehicle accidents, anxiety, and depressed mood.
On the other hand, less than 7 hours of sleep is related to more crime and behavioral problems, poor mental and physical health, and decreased academic performance.
In a study published in Sleep Medicine, researchers examined good and bad factors that can influence adolescent sleep. They conducted an online survey in Australia, Canada, and The Netherlands.
Overall, 668 adolescents (12-19 years old) gave their responses about their daily sleep habits, technology use, substance use, home environment, parent-set bedtime, and physical activity.
Based on their answers, researchers found some good factors that can improve adolescent sleep:
- Good sleep hygiene. This includes stable cognitive and emotional state before sleep, high sleep stability, napping during daytime, and good sleep environment.
- Parent-set bedtime. In young adolescents, more parental monitoring is related to earlier bedtime and longer total sleep time. In older adolescents, however, the effect of parental monitoring is not very strong. Given the large effects of technology use, researchers suggest that parents need to set a “bedtime” for electronic devices.
- After school sport. These activities can change bedtime. In particular, sports performed after school and in the early evening can make adolescents sleep early. In addition, regular exercise can improve sleep quality.
Risk factors that can harm sleep include:
- Technology use. Mobile phone and internet use significantly contribute to delaying bedtimes and short total sleep time. Smart devices usually can interfere with adolescents’ sleep time and make them sleep less.
- Chaotic home environment. If there is chaos at home, adolescents often go to bed early. However, they take a long time to fall asleep.
Interestingly, tobacco, alcohol, caffeine use after 6pm were not related to bedtime or total sleep time. Researchers suggest that this is due to the increase of technology use in adolescents.
In the future, sleep interventions will consider these factors and develop strategies that enhance the benefit from good factors while minimizing the harm from the risk factors.
Citation: Bartel K. et al. (2016). Protective and risk factors associated with adolescent sleep: findings from Australia, Canada and The Netherlands. Sleep Medicine, In Press, Accepted Manuscript. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2016.07.007
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