Problem: If I had my druthers, I’d go to bed at 4 a.m. and wake up at 1 p.m. every day. This is what my body wants, what it tries to revert to on every weekend and vacation. But this is not what society wants, and, as always, society wins. The struggle was even realer as a teen, when I had to wake up at 6:30 for school, or sometimes 4:30, for swim practice. And according to a 2009 study, 44 percent of students aged 12 to 18 have trouble staying awake in school. Natural morning people definitely have an edge there over those disposed to staying up late—but there might be more advantages to forcing yourself to go to sleep early than just feeling refreshed. A new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health looks at the long-term effects of teens’ bedtimes on their academic success and emotional health.
Methodology: Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley looked at data on bedtime during the school year for 2,700 students aged 13 to 18 from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. That study checked in with the students in 1995, 1996, and between 2001 and 2002. At the third check-in, the study personnel gathered the then-graduated participants’ school transcripts and measured their cumulative grade point averages for all the years of high school. Participants also self-reported their emotional distress, a composite measure that included things like feeling depressed, crying more than once a week, and being bothered by things they weren’t normally affected by.