Good sleep helps teenagers with psychosocial stress

A new Michigan State University study found that a good night's sleep is good for teenagers, aside from staying awake in class. Adequate sleep times can also help teenagers cope with difficult social situations. Lead author Wang's research is the first to determine when this factor helps youth deal with stress.

A good night's sleep against stressors at school

Good sleep is important for young people to deal with stress

The study, which focused on ninth grade students, found that adequate sleep allowed students to deal with discrimination and challenges related to ethnic or racial prejudice. It also helps them solve problems more effectively and seek peer support when faced with difficulties.

“The results of this study have important implications,” said Yijie Wang. She is an assistant professor for human development and family research at the MSU. “Understanding how good sleep helps adolescents tackle social challenges can therefore explain how promoting sleep can improve teen adaption during secondary school and beyond.”

Sleeping teenage African American tired on textbooks

Compared to adults and children, schoolchildren are at particular risk of inadequate sleep due to early schooling, a busy schedule and increased social stress. The transition to high school also brings more diversity to their social environment and relationships.

With this study, Wang wanted to find out what effects good sleep has on coping with discrimination. They found that when a teenager sleeps well, they can deal with tough experiences better.

study results

Sleepy young woman wakes up

“This study did not treat sleep as a result of discrimination,” said Wang. “However, our team has found the impact of discrimination on same-day sleep in other studies. These results showed that adolescents slept less on days when they were exposed to ethnic or racial discrimination. It also took them longer to actually fall asleep. “

The study participants wore an actigraphy watch daily for two weeks, which tracked their physical activity at one-minute intervals. So this could determine their condition. Students were also asked to take a survey every day before going to bed. In this they reported on their experiences during the day, how they reacted to stress and their psychological well-being.

A surprising finding in the study was that peers, and not parents, were immediate support. This has helped young people to deal with discrimination.

“Compared to parents, peers are likely to witness and experience adolescents with ethnic or racial discrimination on a daily basis. As such, they are more of an immediate support and comfort for young people when discrimination occurs, ”says the researcher.

Nevertheless, parents play an important role in coping with social situations. In addition to the recommended eight hours, sleep quality is equally important. This includes a regular bedtime, the limitation of media usage and the provision of a quiet, less crowded sleeping environment.

While promoting good sleep habits in adolescents can be a struggle, Wang said that the benefits of a routine help them overcome the challenges of life in school and beyond.

“The beneficial effects of sleep are so constant,” Wang said of the study. “It reduces the number of ruminating adolescents, promotes problem solving and helps them to seek better support from their peers.”

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