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School Climate & Safety

No Rest for the Weary, and Emotional Instability, Too

By Ross Brenneman — October 17, 2012 1 min read

In a preliminary study of sleep effects on academic achievement, the American Academy of Pediatrics tested the outcome of modest sleep extensions and restrictions on young students.

Thirty-four children ages 7-11 received an extra hour of sleep for five days, or were deprived of an hour, and then were assessed on emotional stability by their teachers. While those given a sleep extension only ended up sleeping an average 27.36 minutes longer than normal, researchers discovered in them significant improvements in alertness and emotional regulation. Of special interest: students with a one-hour sleep restriction overall actually slept more soundly, which implies duration is, to a certain extent, more important than quality.

How does this study fit in with the existing framework on sleep? As has been well-documented, according to the National Institutes of Health, children and teenagers should get around nine hours of sleep per night, and adults should get around eight. (Some of us thrive on seven hours without being cranky at all and anyone who says otherwise is a rotten liar, you hear me?)

In 2012, several studies worldwide continued to explore the science of sleep. In February, researchers at Brigham Young University questioned whether teens really needed at least nine hours of sleep, but found detrimental effects in undersleeping. A University of Munich study reported on in May linked sleep deprivation to obesity. In August 2012, a team from UCLA said that students who study at the expense of sleep have poor retention of the studied material.

This is all not to say that extra sleep will stymie the emotional hellfire that comes with puberty, but hey, it’s something.

While we’re knocking out youth health problems, here’s another one: A team of researchers released a study today that says vaccinating against the human papillomavirus (HPV) does not significantly increase sexual activity, pregnancy, or risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections.

Child maintenance: It’s basically a sport.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.