Study: Do Teens Need Less Shut-Eye than We Think?

Alexandra Sifferlin

Between extracurricular activities, homework and late-night Facebooking, many teens aren’t catching the nightly z’s they need. Or are they?

Although national guidelines recommend that teens get at least 8.5 hours of sleep a night — a bar that few teens actually meet — a new study suggests that they may not require as much shut-eye as we thought, at least not if performance on standardized tests is any measure.

In their report published in the current issue of the Eastern Economics Journal, researchers from Brigham Young University analyzed a nationally representative sample of 1,724 students and compared the amount of sleep they reported getting to their standardized test scores. Sixteen-year-olds scored best on only 7 hours of sleep a night, it turns out. For 12-year-olds, the optimal amount of sleep was slightly over 8 hours, and for 10-year-olds it was about 9 hours.

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