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Study Shows Late Sleepers Are Prone to Memory, Behavior Problems

Nov 07, 2016 06:03 AM EST
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Research suggests being a night owl will never be good. Sleep scientists have determined that teenagers -- or people in general -- who sleep late at night struggle with self-regulation, regardless of how much sleep they get.

A study using data gathered from over 2,000 students in Fairfax County, Virginia analyzed various sleep conditions. Scientists determined the associations between the amount of sleep students get, their activity in daytime, and a brain function known as self-regulation.

This is the ability to control emotions, cognitive functions, and behavior.

According to NPR, "night owls" tend to have the hardest time with self-regulation. Students that sleep late eventually have more memory problems, are more impulsive, and get irritated more easily.

Dr. Judith Owens and her colleagues said their study, published in Pediatrics, determined something called a "chronotype" or a measure of when a body clock makes them inclined to sleep. This determines someone's "morningness" or "eveningness."

Morningness, or morning people, tend to go to bed early and wake up earlier. Its counterpart eveningness, or evening people, tend to go to bed late and wake up late.

Students who go to bed late tend to be sleepier during the day and have more trouble with self-regulation. The plot twist is this happens regardless of the sleep they are getting. Since students tend to be night owls, schools ought to start classes later.

Owens added it's essential that students get enough sleep and appropriately-timed sleep for optimal self-regulation. Lack of these benefits will compromise the skills of students. Early school times force students to start classes when their brains are still asleep.

Starting school late will also cater to the needs of adolescents who are slowly becoming night owls. Owens and her team are currently preparing suggestions that can be followed by schools should they opt to start this new system. However, it may take time to adjust given the enormous time and effort it takes to reschedule classes.

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