How many hours of sleep do you think your kids need? In the US, the federal guidelines recommend that high school students get nine hours of sleep. However, this recommendation was based on a study that simply told participants to sleep until they felt satisfied. Mark Showalter, an economics professor at Brigham Young University and author of a new study on optimal sleep, felt that the basis was a little off. "If you used that same approach for a guideline on how much people should eat, you would put them in a well-stocked pantry and just watch how much they ate until they felt satisfied," Showalter said. "Somehow that doesn’t seem right."

Wanting to delve deeper into the issue, he and fellow professor Eric Eide decided to use a different gauge for optimal sleep. Instead of just relying on the teenagers’ sense of sleep satisfaction, they also took into consideration how the hours of sleep could affect the students' productivity. Using data from 1,724 students across the country, the researchers set out to analyze how long students slept and how it affected their grades in a standardized exam.

Results revealed that 10-year-olds would do well to sleep for 9 to 9.5 hours, 12-year-olds for 8 to 8.5 hours, and 16-year-olds for 7 hours. But these results aren’t exactly set in stone. As parents, you can make observations of your own. Are your kids getting too little sleep? If so, how are their grades affected? From there, you yourself can make adjustments in their schedule.

For more on sleep, check these out on FN:

(Photo by EliJerma via Flickr Creative Commons)

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