According to a new study by the Journal of Adolescent
Health, to be able to understand a teenager's sleeping habits the
best place to start is to look at their parents. When their parents
go to bed, how long they sleep and when they wake up may be shaping
their children's sleep habits.
Lack of sleep has been linked to
obesity, accidents, substance abuse and other health problems
during high school, researchers said and that efforts to improve
teen sleep should consider the sleep routines of parents and
possibly other family members.
The study, at the University of
California in Los Angeles, involved 336 pairs of teens and parents,
aged on average 15 and 42 years old, respectively. Over a two-year
period, teens and parents documented their sleep habits and daily
activities nightly for two weeks in each of the years whilst the
parent-teen relationships were also assessed.
On average, teens slept 8.6 hours on
non-school nights and about 30 minutes less on school nights.
Parents went to bed and woke up earlier than teens and slept about
17 minutes less on school nights. Although parents and teens didn't
always go to bed at the same time, the similarity in their sleep
habits was significant: if parents stayed up later or went to bed
earlier, teens also stayed up later or went to bed earlier.
Interestingly, the variability in parental bedtimes was more
closely related to variability in girls' bedtimes.
The association between the sleep
habits of parents and teens remained significant after adjusting
for other factors, such as studying, suggesting family sleep
routines may shape adolescent sleep over and above other events in
their life. The relationship between parent-teen sleep was
strongest in larger families and those with greater parental