Why Healthy Sleep Habits Matter

Where is Sleep on Your Student’s Priority List?
In our achievement-oriented culture, there can be pressure on teens to do more, be more, and say ‘yes’ to every opportunity. And then there’s the plethora of entertainment and social media options that are available at any moment. With only 24 hours in a day, it’s tempting to sacrifice sleep to join one more club, study a little more for that test, or send one more Snap. But at what cost?

When teens consistently get the right amount of sleep, they feel and function better. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that not getting enough sleep is associated with certain health risks and that more than ⅔ of U.S. high school students report less than 8 hours of sleep during school nights. A lack of adequate sleep is associated with increased risk of physical illnesses, such as obesity and diabetes, injury-related risk behaviors (e.g. risky driving or not wearing a helmet), poor mental health, attention and behavior problems, and poor academic performance.

How Much Sleep Does Your Child Get?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teens sleep 8-10 hours every night. And yet, results from the Challenge Success Student Survey reveal that the average high school student reports getting 6.5 hours of sleep per weeknight while middle schoolers do a little better with 7.8 hours. When parents are asked about their students’ sleep in the Challenge Success Parent Survey, they believe their kids get, on average, an hour more than the students say they do!

We often hear stories of students sacrificing sleep to study for a test or finish their homework. But, research shows that memory consolidation, an important part of the learning process, actually takes place during sleep. Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis is an essential part of physical and emotional well-being and sets students up to be active, engaged learners. Of course, this applies to parents and educators too!

Try This At Home
In our Parent Education workshops, we use a Time Wheel exercise to help parents consider how their children’s lives are presently balanced. Parents estimate the amount of time their children engage in each of the activities on the wheel on a typical weekday, and then reflect on how the time spent on each activity aligns with the family’s priorities. Often, parents notice that with all their commitments, kids have little time left in the day for sleep. Download a printable version of this activity with instructions to try this at home.


Kari Riedel is the Marketing and Communications Director at Challenge Success overseeing the organization’s brand and marketing strategy and leading initiatives to grow the Challenge Success model and mission. 

Samantha Selby is a Research Associate with Challenge Success, managing the quantitative and qualitative data analysis of Challenge Success student surveys and supporting the organization’s overall research efforts.