Teenagers are jetlagged on Mondays – and not because they’ve just come back off holiday, sleep researchers claim.
Laying in all weekend and staying up til 2am playing video games is having the same effect on schoolchildren as long-haul flights.
This change in routine could explain why some children are often lazier at the start of the week, Swedish scientists believe.
They suggest that children should be banned from using their phones after 10pm on the weekend to ensure a healthy sleeping pattern.
Serena Bauducco, based at Örebro University, said this strict parenting approach may stop children from unnecessarily taking days off school.
Laying in all weekend and staying up til 2am playing video games is having the same effect on schoolchildren as long-haul flights, research shows
She was behind a study which showed teenagers who have difficulty sleeping are three times more likely to bunk off school.
The findings, which showed mental well-being to be damaged by poor sleep, were presented in Ms Bauducco’s doctoral thesis.
Teenagers are more stressed and worried about school if they aren’t getting the right amount of sleep each night – at least eight hours.
These young people also bring their mobile phone or computer to bed to a greater extent than others, the study showed.
How was the study carried out?
Nearly 2,700 pupils aged between 13 and 16 were quizzed. Children of this age begin to develop evening habits that keep them up later.
Questionnaires showed that teenagers sleep longer at weekends, because they go to bed later and wake up later.
Ms Bauducco said: ‘As a result, they may be tired and grumpy at school. Studies show that not getting enough sleep may affect learning.’
Similar to jet lag
She likened this to jet lag, which can disturb someone’s sleeping pattern by disrupting their internal body clock and make them lethargic during the day.
CHANGE WHAT YOU EAT TO CURB JET LAG
Overcoming jet lag may be as simple as changing the time you eat, research revealed in June.
In the first human study of its kind, scientists found that postponing meals delays how our blood sugar levels fluctuate throughout the day.
The British experts claimed that controlling blood sugar levels helps to synchronise our internal body clock.
The University of Surrey team believe their findings may also benefit shift workers who struggle to nod off.
Lead author Dr Jonathan Johnston said: ‘Altering meal times can reset the body clock regulating sugar metabolism in a drug-free way.’
For some teenagers, it may take three to four days to get back into routine – and by then, the school week is nearly over, Ms Bauducco warned.
But for the large majority, around 80 per cent of volunteers, the weekend-related jet lag is not a big deal.
Nearly all of those who were involved in the study did suffer jet lag, but a majority of them did get enough sleep during the week.
How to tackle the problem
In response to her findings, Ms Bauducco launched a programme with the same teenagers involved in the study.
The simple regime was to help the youngsters to create routines for themselves to get better sleep at the weekend.
It included simple things like not bringing their mobile phone into bed with them, and not sending or responding to text messages after 10 o’clock at night.
Teenagers who suffered with their sleeping patterns before were found to receive the biggest benefits from the programme.
Ms Bauducco said: ‘Those who had previously got the least sleep, improved their sleeping routine. They were less stressed and slept better.’
It backs up previous research in 2012 that found teenagers perform better academically if they cut down on lie-ins and had more regular sleep patterns.