Less sleep, more struggles for elementary and middle school students

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Reducing the amount of sleep students get at night has a direct impact on their performance at school during the day. According to classroom teachers, elementary and middle school students who stay up late exhibit more learning and attention problems, Brown Medical School and Bradley Hospital research shows.

In the study, teachers were not told the amount of sleep students received when completing weekly performance reports. Yet they rated students who had received eight hours or less as having the most trouble recalling old material, learning new lessons and completing high-quality work. Teachers also reported that these students had more difficulty paying attention.

The experiment is the first to ask teachers to report on the effects of sleep restriction in children.

"Just staying up late can cause increased academic difficulty and attention problems for otherwise healthy, well-functioning kids," said Gahan Fallone, the study's lead author. "So the results provide professionals and parents with a clear message: When a child is having learning and attention problems, the issue of sleep has to be on the radar screen."

Fallone will present the findings Nov. 10 at the American Medical Association's 24th annual Science Reporters Conference in Washington, D.C. Results will be published in the December issue of SLEEP, the peer-reviewed journal published jointly by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

Fallone is an associate professor at the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Mo. At the time the study was conducted, he was a researcher at Bradley Hospital and an assistant professor of research at Brown Medical School.

Research team members and journal article co-authors, are Christine Acebo, assistant professor of research at Brown Medical School and associate director of the Bradley Hospital Sleep and Chronobiology Research Laboratory; Ronald Sei

Contact: Wendy Lawton
Brown University

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