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Education Science

Sleep Deprivation Lowers School Achievement In Children 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-couldn't-agree-moZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz dept.
New submitter josedu writes:"Sleep deprivation is a great, hidden problem that afflicts a great percentage of children in affluent countries. About 73% of 9- and 10-year-old children in the U.S. are sleep deprived, as are 80% of 13- and 14-year-olds. The new study thinks this is linked to the increased access to devices such as mobile phones and laptops late at night. One of the researchers put it very simply: 'Our data show that across countries internationally, on average, children who have more sleep achieve higher in maths, science and reading.' This disruption is also causing schools to dumb-down their instruction to accomodate the reduced capacity of these kids. Thus, even the kids who are getting enough sleep will suffer. The long-term impact of sleep deprivation on nationwide education levels is enormous."
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Sleep Deprivation Lowers School Achievement In Children

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    • duh research (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      while it might be "duh", government agencies, et al, won't respond to anecdotal stories about the effects of sleep deprivation. They need data to back it.

      There are many other "duh" topics, but no one ever bothers to actually study it. And for the ones who do, regular folks aren't surprised at the answer and wonder why the govt. is funding such "obvious" research.

      Well, analyzing "duh" data is tedious. And hard to do without preconceived bias.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There are many other "duh" topics, but no one ever bothers to actually study it. And for the ones who do, regular folks aren't surprised at the answer and wonder why the govt. is funding such "obvious" research.

        What *I* wonder is why the gov't doesn't err on the side of "duh, this probably is true, let's account for that in our planning".

        If you want to actually fix this situation, wrest control away from the morning-people who set the school schedules. Not everyone actually wants to get up shortly after dawn, for many people this is simply unnatural and goes against their own sleep rhythm, but everyone is forced to do this by various schools and employers.

        When you are not naturally a morning person, you hav

      • Re:duh research (Score:5, Informative)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @06:41PM (#43670517)

        while it might be "duh", government agencies, et al, won't respond to anecdotal stories about the effects of sleep deprivation. They need data to back it.

        There is plenty of data. This not even close to the first study that has reached the same conclusion. More sleep means more learning. Kids' sleep patterns are determined by daylight, so "going to bed early" doesn't work. What does work is shifting the school hours later in the day. The kids go to bed at the same time, but sleep extra in the morning. Schools that have done this not only have better test scores, but also have fewer pregnancies, less drug use, and fewer accidents. Kids are most likely to smoke pot and screw right after school, while their parents are still at work and the house is empty. When the school day is shifted later in the day, they don't have as much time for that. Citation (sorry about the pdf): Sleep, Safety, Drugs, Teen Pregnancy and other reasons to change school times [nksd.net]

    • by cod3r_ (2031620) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:14PM (#43669011)
      Except they blame devices instead of the schools for having to start classes at 8am on the dot. Why not start them later at like 930 or 10. I hated waking up for school so freakin early.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by chinton (151403)
        Then go to sleep earlier...
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:22PM (#43669105)

          I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure circadian rhythms don't work like that.

          here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Biological_clock_human.svg [wikipedia.org]

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Also this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_sleep_phase_disorder [wikipedia.org]

            I tried my best to go to bed earlier. I just ended up tossing and turning in bed until midnight for weeks on end. Only thing that helped me is melatonin.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ebno-10db (1459097)

              I tried my best to go to bed earlier.

              Same here. My pet peeve is how morning people are often so sanctimonious about their preferred schedules, as though working at 7AM is somehow more virtuous than working at 7PM. Personally I think we should put all the morning people on the other side of the planet so they stop bothering us (bonus points if you force them to attend conference calls in the middle of their night).

          • by suutar (1860506) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:52PM (#43669387)
            Not to mention the natural wake/sleep cycle changes as you age. Adolescence tends to shift the natural wake-up time back by a couple of hours. Yes, teenagers wanting to sleep in later than preadolescents (and stay up later) seems to have a biological basis. http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/take_care/how_much_sleep.html [kidshealth.org]
          • If you're from NYC and you travel to L.A., you'll be getting up earlier and going to be earlier than L.A. people. If you 'stay' on NYC time you'll in effect become an L.A. morning person.
            • Except your body won't stay on NYC time. It'll align itself with the sunlight hours you're now experiencing in LA. If you're a night owl in NYC, you'll be a night owl in LA, after that period of adjustment known as "jet lag". That's what jet lag is, you know, when your body's rhythms are trying to cope with having daytime suddenly shifted several hours on it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by chinton (151403)
          Apparently my son has a /. account and just modded me 'Troll'.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Apparently my son has a /. account and just modded me 'Troll'.

            Of course, that must be what happened. The fact that you smugly oversimplified a complex, nuanced issue in order to dismiss it and those adversely affected by it has absolutely nothing to do with it.

            You remind me of certain extreme right-wingers who think the poor should just "get off their lazy asses", as if poverty was that simple.

            Not everyone is "wired" to be a morning person. They are not naturally that way, but they find themselves in a world run by those who are. They go against their own nat

        • Didn't work back then, still doesn't work for me, not at all.

          During a few weeks of holidays I did some self experimentation with my "natural" sleep cycle. I shut off any kind of outside information concerning time (i.e. no light from outside, no clocks, no contact), wrote an app where I'd press buttons depending on when I wake up and when I go to bed (without telling me what time it actually is) and set an alarm for the morning of the last Sunday (so I won't miss having to go to work again).

          The result was i

      • by compro01 (777531)

        Because we need to prepare them for a life of sleep deprivation caused by having to start work at 8am on the dot.

        • But if they performed better, they'd be able to get jobs where they're not slaves to the rhythm.

        • by lgw (121541)

          When America was brimming with manufacturing jobs, and manufacturing jobs were among the best jobs available, that was a great plan for a school system.

          But the world has changed, and manufacturing jobs are history, and narrowly fixed work schedules across a team make less sense every decade.

          • by compro01 (777531)

            narrowly fixed work schedules across a team make less sense every decade.

            So we should only expect them to persist for the next century or so.

      • by WillgasM (1646719)
        I'm pretty sure it's so parents have time to drop off their kids at school on the way to work.
        • Damn lazy kids these days.
          I had to walk a mile and a quarter each way. In the winter I got to take the bus. 10c each way was too expensive for my family to support year round.
          People wonder why there are so many obese kids.
        • by tehcyder (746570) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @06:05AM (#43673321) Journal

          I'm pretty sure it's so parents have time to drop off their kids at school on the way to work.

          Parents should not be taking their kids to school after the age of about 4 or 5.

          It is one of the most ridiculous things to have happened during my lifetime. Kids should walk, cycle or get a bus (depending on distance). There is absolutely no advantage whatsoever in parents driving their kids to school. It makes the kids physically lazy and infantilises them. They have no freedom to play with friends on the way to school, or hang around afterwards talking, or explore on their own.

          It's all part of society's destruction of childhood. Children go from toddler straight to whining entitled adolescent.

      • You are blaming schools, when most of the time these decisions are made by school boards, which are comprised of elected officials. The blame is with us all.
      • No, blame the schools because they let out the kids out at 4 PM.

        If schools let them out at 1 PM instead of 4 PM, then cartoon time and prime time can be moved forward 3 hours, and then little school children everywhere could go to bed at 8 PM instead of 11 PM, and nobody would be having this problem of not enough sleep.

    • by foobsr (693224)
      TFS probably was done by a sleep deprived individuum.
      The point is the alarmingly high percentage of children affected in some countries, especially the US, combined with reasons and large scale effects.
      CC.
    • It's not "duh" though, adults grossly underestimate the amount of sleep kids need, starting at about age 1 all way through age 25. I tell people my 2 year old goes to be at 7:30PM and wakes up at 7:00AM, then has a 2 hours nap. I've gotten everything from incredulous stares to accusations that I'm somehow a bad parent for letting my kid sleep that much. Very, very rarely do people say anything positive about it. Never mind the fact that all the research points to kids 1-3 years old needing 12-14 hours o

      • I tell people my 2 year old goes to be at 7:30PM and wakes up at 7:00AM, then has a 2 hours nap. I've gotten everything from incredulous stares to accusations that I'm somehow a bad parent for letting my kid sleep that much

        Same here - Lights out at 7:30 and a big nap in the afternoon, Although my 2 year old boy seems to be ready to get up at 6am most mornings.

        I think the reason you (we) get stares is parents have to adjust their lifestyles if they want their kids to get enough sleep, and they're not k

      • Never mind the fact that all the research points to kids 1-3 years old needing 12-14 hours of sleep per day.

        That's nice. How about if your kid just won't sleep that long, no matter when you put them to bed? Given the handful that a two year old can be, most parents pray for their kids to sleep a lot. Never worked with my daughter. Given my flexible schedule and that my wife was able to be a stay-at-home mom then, we could and did try any schedule. The bottom line is that people differ, which simplistic recommendations often don't take into account.

    • by Skrapion (955066)

      Seriously?

      Okay, here's what you were thinking:

      "Duh! Obviously sleep deprivation is bad for children!"

      But here's the full implication of your response:

      "Duh! Anybody who doesn't know that 73% of 9-10 year olds and 80% of 13-14 year olds in the US are sleep deprived is a moron."

      Measurements are important. That's what science is all about.

  • So at some point before graduate school it turns the other way around...
  • Ambient noise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:06PM (#43668915)

    I'd wager ambient urban noise levels have increased tremendously over the last while as well. Given increasingly shoddy construction, antisocial behaviour from the party set and general vehicular activity you'd have to be living in a rural area to get a decent night's sleep in most places. It's a very serious business with major health implications for children and adults.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      I don't think that's a problem. I was raised in a city, and now that I moved I have trouble getting asleep without the noise. Ambient noise is relatively easy to get used to.

      • So if it doesn't apply to YOU, then it must be wrong.
        I agree habit plays a large role, but think of it like this: if you were to be raised in a more natural environment, maybe your today's performance would have been 150% of what it is now. Truth is, you wouldn't know. It's one of the things you can't prove unless you go back to birth and start off on a different path, and then a Godlike power would compare the two :)

    • by cstec (521534)

      ...antisocial behaviour from the party set...

      Wait, what? How many geeks have been harped on to get out, go to parties and see real people? Now the truth -- seeing other people is anti-social!

      Guess it's back to playing violent video games with a million other people, the last vestige of polite society.

      • It seems you've never been annoyed by loud thumping music that you can hear from ten blocks away.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Construction has gotten much better, especially windows which now transmit far less sound. Vehicles have gotten quieter and the party set is not going to risk arrest by being that loud.

      • Some of today's vehicles have five thousand watts subwoofers. You think those are quieter, really?

        • He's not talking about the sound system. Engine noise and road noise from modern cars is considerably less than what it used to be.

    • by Ryanrule (1657199)

      Yeah, but if i lived on a farm I would have had to kill myself long ago.

    • Ambient noises are not a problem. Far from it, given the fact that there's an entire industry geared around providing ambient sounds as a sleep aid for people who don't have enough of them. While sirens and the like may be annoying, most people don't have to deal with those most nights, and the rest of the ambient sounds are no more difficult to get used to than anything else. When I was a kid living in the suburbs, I remember leaving my bedroom window open at night so that I could fall asleep to the sound

      • Nature doesn't have cars with subwoofers, harley-davidson bikes and idiots using streets as racing tracks.

        • I'd agree. However, you're failing to draw a distinction between ambient noise and just plain old noise. All of those are noise, certainly, but none of those would typically be classified as ambient, which is what the OP was talking about and I was responding to.

    • by Twinbee (767046)
      This is why we all must campaign for electric cars to come *without* the artificial engine noise. Yes, we MAY save a few lives here and there (or maybe not, as people will just have to look both ways), but the insidious effects that noise pollution has on all our health is very much underrated.
      • The artificial engine noise is only useful up to 5 or 10 mph. After that tire and wind noise are greater than engine noise.
  • by seebs (15766) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:09PM (#43668949) Homepage

    They managed to reproduce results fifteen or twenty years, and offer a stupid interpretation. Not bad!

    The sleep-deprivation thing is well known, and not new. However, there's nothing tying it to "mobile devices". Rather, there's strong evidence that teenagers tend to have a circadian rhythm which favors being up later and not getting up that early. Schools have historically shoved their schedules extra-early so that extracurricular events like sports can occur before the sun goes down, but after school. Last time I heard about this, a school district had tried simply moving the high school day an hour later, and gotten a very noticable improvement in basically every measure of achievement available to them.

    Now that I'm an adult, I sleep until I feel like getting up, and if I'm up a bit late, fine. I pretty much wake up between 11 and noon, and I work "late" most nights... But I get a heck of a lot more done, and a lot better, than I did when I was trying to work 9-5.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Schools have historically shoved their schedules extra-early so that extracurricular events like sports can occur before the sun goes down, but after school.

      Solution, abolish sports. You go to school to learn. You can play with your balls on your own time.

      • I'm not sure what Al Bundy will do without his High School athletic accomplishments to look back on.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Schools have historically shoved their schedules extra-early so that extracurricular events like sports can occur before the sun goes down, but after school.

        Solution, abolish sports. You go to school to learn. You can play with your balls on your own time.

        You also get a LOT of pushback from the students themselves - while they like the late start, the don't like the evening endings because it means less dollars for their pockets to buy stuff with (i.e., part time jobs, babysitting, chores, etc). Turns out m

  • I may seem like a fuddy-duddy to some other parents with the ~somewhat~ early (or at least not late) bedtimes we have established for our grade school aged kids during the week, but the further I go, the more I believe we're doing the right thing. I may not be able to control whether they get sick or not, or if they always eat all their veggies, but the one thing I CAN make sure of is that they always get a good night's sleep. And the older they get, the more important the benefits of being well rested ar

    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      I may seem like a fuddy-duddy to some other parents with the ~somewhat~ early (or at least not late) bedtimes we have established for our grade school aged kids during the week, but the further I go, the more I believe we're doing the right thing. I may not be able to control whether they get sick or not, or if they always eat all their veggies, but the one thing I CAN make sure of is that they always get a good night's sleep.

      You could also make sure they eat a healthy nutritious breakfast. However, in many school districts, the failures of the parents to feed their children properly has resulted in free breakfast and lunch for every student. The rationale is that they don't learn if they are hungry, and you cannot single out the poor kids to feed for free because that would hurt their self-esteem.

      This free lunch even extends, in some places, to the SUMMER, when they aren't in school and the excuse that they won't be able to l

    • by nblender (741424)

      You are absolutely correct. It was sometimes a drag having to leave a social function early because our son needed to be in bed by 8:30... We even suffered the ribbing of friends who let their young (gr 3) children stay up until 10 or 11 so they could stay at social functions...

      Our son is 11 now, is in bed by 8:45, and is woken up by me at 6:45. He complains that most of his friends at school get to stay up until 10 and why can't he, etc ... On very rare occasions, does he get to stay up late and it sure

  • by jazman_777 (44742) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:12PM (#43668999) Homepage
    It's a Slashdot theorem that Technology Cannot Be The Problem. You may proceed, that is all.
    • Technology can be the problem. But if it is, then it must also be the solution.

    • by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:43PM (#43669283)

      When the problem predates the technology (or at least the wide adoption of the technology), it's pretty unlikely that the technology is the primary problem. It may be aggravating things, but the root cause is somewhere else.

    • by MtHuurne (602934)

      Obviously it must be the parents' fault.

      I think I would have been sleep deprived as well if I had had a portable computer or game console as a child. Without those to pass the time when I wasn't ready to sleep, I used to read books, but somehow reading a book doesn't make you less sleepy. I mean, if you're really into the story you can stay awake for just one more chapter, but it takes some effort. With computers, it's very easy to lose track of time. Maybe it's the light coming from the monitor or maybe it

  • ...kids, is that many parents don't put their kids to sleep the same way they did when I was a child (70's/80's.)

    My kids go to sleep between 7:30PM and 8:30PM depending upon their ages (ranging from 5-9.)

    At 9PM at night during the week I'll hear quite a lot of our neighbors' kids still playing outside, much less getting ready for bed.

    School starts VERY early here as well (kids have to be at school by 7:30AM.)

    Now, some of these kids who are staying up later are doing quite well in school, so who knows. It's just different from when I was a kid and it seemed to be a pervasive adult conspiracy to put all children to bed early...

    • by Nyder (754090) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:27PM (#43669147) Journal

      ...kids, is that many parents don't put their kids to sleep the same way they did when I was a child (70's/80's.)

      My kids go to sleep between 7:30PM and 8:30PM depending upon their ages (ranging from 5-9.)

      At 9PM at night during the week I'll hear quite a lot of our neighbors' kids still playing outside, much less getting ready for bed.

      School starts VERY early here as well (kids have to be at school by 7:30AM.)

      Now, some of these kids who are staying up later are doing quite well in school, so who knows. It's just different from when I was a kid and it seemed to be a pervasive adult conspiracy to put all children to bed early...

      My parents made me go to bed at 7:30 till I was in middle school. It was evil. I didn't need that much sleep, and the sun was still shining most the time. It would take me hours to fall asleep. If that help my grades, I don't know. I was the kid who always had the "can't pay attention" in class. But later, in middle school and beyond, when I wasn't going to bed at 7:30 (it was then more 9-10ish) I got B+ grades without trying.

      • by Assmasher (456699)

        Damn, that sounds rough. I think when I was 10 I could stay up to 9PM.

      • I was the kid who always had the "can't pay attention" in class. But later, in middle school and beyond, when I wasn't going to bed at 7:30 (it was then more 9-10ish) I got B+ grades without trying.

        How much of that "can't pay attention" is due to the one-size-fits-all education levels by age/grade in American education? We have programs for slower students very early on, but gifted students are expected to stay behind and be bored to tears doing lessons and homework for concepts they already grasp. The fi

  • by captjc (453680) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:19PM (#43669073)

    It's easy to blame computers and cell phones, how about not giving out 5+ hours of homework a night? To make it worse most of it was busy work in addition to the nightly reading assignments. When you have 6+ classes per day with reading and assignments, that stuff adds up pretty quickly. In high school, I was lucky to get 4 hours a night.

    Even my heaviest college semesters weren't anywhere near as busy as my average high school week.

    • Judging by your archaic User ID, it's probably been a good 30 years since you were in high school. I just watched my niece graduate from a suburban US High school in a relatively affluent neighborhood - graduating in the top quintile of students. The homework load you suggest is greatly exaggerated - I would say most high school students are given an hour, tops, of *active* homework assignments, along with a half-hour to an hour of reading. I graduated nearly 15 years ago, from a Jesuit high school known
      • by captjc (453680)

        Actually, I graduated in 2005 and my workload was not exaggerated. I was in all AP and College Prep classes and, ironically, I had a lighter workload than most of the general placement students who did nothing but repetitive worksheets that ask the same questions 50 times with slightly different phrasing.

      • it's probably been a good 30 years since you were in high school. I just watched my niece graduate from a suburban US High school in a relatively affluent neighborhood - graduating in the top quintile of students. The homework load you suggest is greatly exaggerated

        You can't generalize that way. Schools vary enormously from place to place. I did graduate from high school more than 30 years ago, in the same basic area, and I can tell you that my daughter in the 4th grade has a lot more homework than when I was that age. The idea seems to be "more work is better, regardless of whether is ridiculously redundant busy work". My wife and I make sure my daughter always does it, but it's a pain. She constantly complains about it nonsensical busywork. What my wife and I can't

        • You can't generalize that way.

          DID I MENTIONED I WAS AMERICAN????

          Another argument won.

        • My wife and I make sure my daughter always does it, but it's a pain. She constantly complains about it nonsensical busywork. What my wife and I can't do is admit that we agree with her.

          Why on earth not? Is there some problem with telling your kids the truth?

          Think about how you'd feel if you were in her position.

          And vast amounts of nonsensical busy work does not prepare you in any war for a good career. Nor does it help academic improvement in any way. A bit of drilling is good, but vast amounts of crap are

      • by Legion303 (97901)

        "Judging by your archaic User ID,"

        An ID in the half-million range is "archaic" now? Shit!

  • by DdJ (10790) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:21PM (#43669089) Homepage Journal

    ..."sleep deprivation lowers all achievement in everyone"?

    Who's surprised?

    (Mind you, I'm all for conducting experiments to test things we all "know". I just don't usually expect to see those experiments classified as newsworthy.)

  • A simple solution would be to start school a few hours later...
  • Start School Later (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mentil (1748130) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:38PM (#43669255)

    The book 'the end of homework' explained this pretty well. Research has found that school starts an hour before children are typically awake. School starts so early so that there can be long afternoons of sports practice. Prioritizing learning over sports would thus lead to improved learning.

    I recall Junior year of high school. Biology and Geometry were my first two classes, and I would fall asleep during the latter due to late nights exploring the nascent Interweb. Late at night there are no parents nagging you, you can go to sleep whenever you want, it's quiet and you can think or do whatever you want. And, ya know, less sleep means more free time, of which high schoolers feel quickly slipping away as their homework load increases.

  • Science (Score:5, Informative)

    by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:44PM (#43669303)
    Actually I read once that teenagers are better "profiled" to perform during the mid day and hence they should really be sleeping much later at night and into the early morning, class for teenagers should be starting at noon not 9am. Well I'm not going to argue a good night sleep is important, it is very important, we need to be setting class times that revolve more around the natural clock of the body and not what works best for the adults. If science can show that 12 - 7pm works better for teenagers then I think we should move class times to work in that area. It would also be worth figuring out when the best natural class time is children, I have a problem when we base sleep patterns for the teachers rather then the students.

    This link from the BBC talks about it: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7932950.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    So I think the solution, at least for teenagers is to move the class time back so they can best perform when biologically they're ready to.
  • I lived in Rome for two years. We often saw young kids (4-8 or so) on the streets with family around midnight. Our 4-year-old was tucked up and snoring. Heck, I should have been tucked up and snoring...

    Rule for life: Don't impose your viewpoints on others. This also applies to wanting the schools to start later to suit the kids who go to bed late. (Maybe start a different class with the same stuff, staggered by two hours... hey, there's in money in this... I hold the copyright, remember).
  • by grantspassalan (2531078) on Wednesday May 08, 2013 @04:59PM (#43669467)

    Common sense would tell anyone that it is parents fault for allowing their children to stay up all hours of the night. Simply confiscate all electronic devices at bedtime. It is the parents responsibility to raise their children, not the state.

  • When I was a teen I stayed up listening to Loveline every night until 2am. I'm pretty sure I would have stayed up listening to a fan blow if it weren't for that radio. I think my point is that smartphones aren't inherently to blame, but I'm sure they don't help.
  • Obligatory post to inform those who may not otherwise know. Apart from the usual about not using the computer for an hour or two before going to sleep (which I often ignore), the following may help:

    1: Install F.lux [stereopsis.com] - a popular utility to reduce the colour temperature of your PC's screen at night.

    2: Get a cooling fan to provide pink noise. This helps drown out any random noises. Also helps during the summer to have it cool your face as you sleep. During the winter, I have a heater right next to it, so w

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