Washington - 16-18 year olds perform better academically when they shave about two hours off from 9 hours of sleep recommended for them by federal guidelines, a new study has claimed.
The new study by Eric Eide and Mark Showalter from Brigham Young University is the first in a series of studies where they examine sleep and its impact on our health and education.
âWeâre not talking about sleep deprivation,â Eide, the study author said.
âThe data simply says that seven hours is optimal at that age,â he said.
Surprisingly, the current federal guidelines are based on studies where teens were simply told to keep sleeping until they felt satisfied.
âIf you used that same approach for a guideline on how much people should eat, you would put them in a well-stocked pantry and just watch how much they ate until they felt satisfied,â Mark Showalter said.
âSomehow that doesnât seem right,â he said.
In the new study, the BYU researchers tried to connect sleep to a measure of performance or productivity. Analysing data from a representative sample of 1,724 primary and secondary school students
across the country, they found a strong relationship between the amount of sleep youths got and how they fared on standardized tests.
âWe donât look at it just from a âyour kid might be sleeping too muchâ perspective,â Eide said.
âFrom the other end, if a kid is only getting 5.5 hours of sleep a night because heâs overscheduled, he would perform better if he got 90 minutes more each night,â he said.
The size of the effect on test scores depends on a number of factors, but an 80-minute shift toward the optimum is comparable to the childâs parents completing about one more year of schooling.
âMost of our students at BYU, especially those that took early-morning seminary classes in high school, are going to realize that 9 hours of sleep isnât what the top students do,â Showalter added.
The study has been published in the Eastern Economics Journal.