KCBS_740SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital say chronic, insufficient sleep can lead to car crashes, depression and obesity in American teenagers. They suggest letting kids sleep in.

The study of more than 2,000 7th to 12 graders in Virginia found night owls were significantly worse at managing behavior, emotions and memory – known as self-regulation – that those who turn in and wake up early.

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“Sleep deprivation in teenagers leads to poor self-regulation,” lead study author Dr. Judith Owens told KCBS.

Owens said teens could have fewer health problems and exhibit less risky behavior if they slept—not just more—but in line with their night owl tendencies.

“It’s not only how much you sleep, it’s when you sleep, and whether your timing of sleep is in sync with what you need to do during the day. And this is where I think our findings have an implication for school start time,” Owens said.

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The principal at Novato High School, Matt Baldwin, is one of many working toward a later school start time. He finds that while most parents agree it would be healthier, college-bound students want to pack a lot into their days.

“Our biggest obstacle, though, is athletic and extracurricular activities,” Baldwin said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends teenagers get 8 to 10 hours of sleep. But due to changes in the teens’ body clock coinciding with puberty, many can’t fall asleep until after 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.

As such, the AAP also advises schools not to start before 8.30am.

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