If your child stays up until the late hours of the night playing Call of Duty online with friends, and then sleeps all day, then it might be time to cancel their Xbox Live subscription
. For many years now, everyone thought that the most important part of sleep is how long you sleep; eight hours a night if you are this age, six hours a night if you are that age, etc. A recent study suggests that rather than sleep quantity, the times
that you go to sleep and wake up are more important.
These sleep schedules could also potentially affect health more than sleep quantity.
In fact recent studies have shown that adolescent youths who go to bed early and wake up early stay thinner and more active than their night owl counterparts.
Published in a recent edition of the online journal Sleep
, the paper reveals an exhaustive study that had taken place using 2,200 Australian adolescents, all between the ages of 9 and 16. Scientists split this large group up into smaller groups, had each group go to sleep and wake up at different times, and recorded the results. It’s important to note that no matter how early or how late each group went to bed, each participant ended up sleeping for the same amount of time.
The results showed that while everyone had the same amount of sleep, those who went to bed earlier and woke up earlier ended up doing around an hour more of physical activity than those who went to bed later. This can be related to a number of things. During the early morning there is less activity online and television shows are usually not overly-interesting. The theory is that this causes online use to dwindle because social networking traffic has slowed to a crawl and television viewers become bored, which compels adolescents to venture outside and do something more physically active instead. The same can be said about night owls; it is dark and no one is outside, prime time television shows are more intriguing, and kids are more likely to surf the web or play video games with their online friends.
Though not concrete, the research also showed a correlation between later bedtimes and participants who came from households with lower income, had fewer siblings or had part time jobs (as well as the opposite effect on individuals who came from “better” living situations).
While the amount of time you spend sleeping does in fact have an impact on your health
, going to sleep at the right times will have a bigger effect, especially if you are an adolescent. Going to bed late and waking up late can expose you to health risks such as obesity, and it might also have an effect on your social life.