Top Stories

Students might have trouble adjusting sleep schedules after heading back to school

PITTSBURGH — The new school year is several weeks in for most students, but they might be having trouble adjusting their sleep schedules.

Back to school comes with a lot of changes, and it’s not only returning to class -- it’s returning to school activities, too.

“Many times, kids are doing three sports, a band practice, music lessons, dance lessons … there is no way that our kids can do all of that and still get enough sleep at night,” Dr. Deppa Burman, a sleep medicine physician at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, said.

Sleep schedules were likely off during the summer, so it takes time to get them back in sync.

Burman suggests establishing a standard wake-up time, and children will start to fall asleep naturally at night when they’re tired.

“If you have to literally drag them out of bed and they seem groggy and tired, then definitely they are not getting enough sleep,” Burman said.


As for teenagers, some schools are already making or considering changes to class schedules to give them the time they need to sleep.

“A lot of schools are kind of looking into what would be the appropriate time to start the schools,” Burman said.

Recent research shows the sleep cycle for teens is shifted from a normal sleep cycle, meaning they naturally don’t feel tired until later at night, close to midnight, Burman explained.

A lack of sleep is dangerous.

“There’s a lot of data right now that not getting enough sleep can lead to depression and anxiety,” Burman said.

Sleep deficiencies can also cause irritability and lack of focus, Burman said.

Comments on this article