Clocks go back: Scientists warn that Daylight Savings affects "vigilance and cognitive function" among students

 
Catherine Neilan
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You need more than 40 winks to keep alert (Source: Getty)

The clocks may be soon going back (well, on 25 October, but we're looking forward to that extra hour in bed already) but sleep scientists are now claiming that daylight savings actually leads to a decline in "vigilance and cognitive function" among students.

On average, high school teens spent 32 minutes less asleep on the weeknights after clocks went forward in March this year. That means their average night's sleep fell to seven hours and 19 minutes. Over the week, that added up to a loss of two hours and 42 minutes.

During school days after the time change, students also displayed increased sleepiness and a decline in psychomotor vigilance, including longer reaction times and increased lapses of attention.

“For many years now, sleep researchers have been concerned about sleep deprivation in adolescents,” said principal investigator Dr. Ana Krieger, medical director of the Weill Cornell Center for Sleep Medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. “This study unveils a potential additional factor that may further restrict their sleep in the early spring.”
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teens get a little more than nine hours of nightly sleep.
“Getting adequate sleep is key for many facets of an adolescent’s development,” said Dr. Nathaniel F. Watson, president of the AASM. “This study raises significant concern about the consequences of impeding their already hectic sleep schedules with Daylight Saving Time every spring.”