A new Michigan State University study found that a good night's sleep does adolescents good – beyond helping them stay awake in class. Adequate sleep can help teens navigate challenging social situations.
The study, which focused on ninth grade students, found that adequate sleep allowed students to cope with discrimination and challenges associated with ethnic or racial bias. It also helps them problem-solve more effectively and seek peer support when faced with hardships.
Findings of this study have important implications. Understanding how sleep helps adolescents negotiate social challenges may consequently elucidate how promoting sleep may improve adolescent adjustment during high school and beyond." Yijie Wang, assistant professor of human development and family studies at MSU
Published in Child Development, this is the first study to identify the timing in which sleep helps with adolescents cope with stress.
Compared to adults and children, high school students are particularly at risk for insufficient sleep due to early school times, busy schedules and increased social stressors. The transition to high school also introduces more diversity to their social environment and relationships.
Via this study, Wang and co-author Tiffany Yip of Fordham University wanted to pinpoint the effect sleep has on coping with discrimination. They found that if a teen has a good night of sleep, they are able to cope with harsh experiences – like discrimination – better.
"This study did not treat sleep as a consequence of discrimination," Wang said. "However, our team did identify the influence of discrimination on same-day sleep in other studies. These studies showed that, on days when adolescents experienced ethnic or racial discrimination, they slept less and also took longer to actually fall asleep." Related Stories
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