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Poor sleep can negatively affect a student’s grades, increase the odds of emotional and behavioral disturbance

May 15, 2008

WESTCHESTER, Ill. – Insufficient sleep among adolescents may not only contribute to lower grades and a lack of motivation, but may also increase the odds of serious levels of emotional and behavioral disturbances, including ADHD.

According to the results, students reported sleeping, on average, 7.6 hours per school night, with 48 percent reporting less than eight hours. Hours of sleep per school night were significantly positively associated with GPA and level of motivation, and significantly negatively associated with clinically significant levels of emotional disturbance and ADHD. Each additional hour of sleep on school nights lowered the odds of scoring in the clinically significant range of emotional disturbance and ADHD by 25 percent and 34 percent, respectively.

“Since these findings are based on associations rather than direct experimental manipulation, they cannot conclusively prove that insufficient sleep causes a loss of motivation, poor grades, ADHD, and emotional disturbance during adolescence,” said Dr. Danner. “The results, however, are consistent with a growing body of research that many adolescents do not get sufficient sleep and that even mild chronic sleep deprivation has serious effects on their psychological functioning.  Lack of sleep should no longer be considered a traditional adolescent rite of passage because it can have serious consequences.”

It is recommended that adolescents get nine hours of nightly sleep.


The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips on how to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.

  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.

  • Get a full night’s sleep every night.

  • Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.

  • Do not stay up all hours of the night to “cram” for an exam, do homework, etc. If after-school activities are proving to be too time-consuming, consider cutting back on these activities.

  • Keep computers and TVs out of the bedroom.

  • Do not go to bed hungry, but don’t eat a big meal before bedtime either.

  • Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.

  • Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.

  • Get up at the same time every morning.


Those who suspect that they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.

More information about teens and sleep is available from the AASM on the Sleep Education website.