If you let your hardworking teen snooze late into the afternoon on the weekends to catch up on missed weekday sleep, you might want to reconsider: Collecting those extra hours isn't beneficial according to a new study from South Korea. In fact, students who use the weekends to make up for a lack of sleep during the week perform worse on attention tests than teens who do not.
The 2,600 Korean high school students surveyed averaged five hours and 42 minutes of sleep on school days, and reported an extra three hours on the weekends. The "sleep debt" that accumulates during the week might be to blame for teens' poor school performance.
Although the results of their study don't prove causation, the findings could not be attributed to difference in age, sex, depression or snoring, according to Dr. Seog Ju Kim of Gachon University of Medicine and Science in Incheon, who conducted the study.
Dr. David Gozal, an expert in childhood sleep problems, who was not part of the study, says that "the findings are just one more piece of evidence showing that cutting back on sleep can take a toll on youngsters -- even if they're spending the extra waking hours doing homework," Reuters reports.
While using weekends to catch up on sleep might not be the answer, there may be another solution. A study that appeared last year in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that delaying school start time by just 30 minutes could be beneficial to students. Researchers said that the extra sleep time led to "more alertness in class, better moods, less tardiness, and even healthier breakfasts."
Experts recommend that teens get nine hours of sleep every night, according to Mayo Clinic. So, while the bell is still ringing as early as it does, you might have to enforce an earlier bedtime.