The Israeli study involved 94 healthy children from five schools. They were between the ages of 10 and 11 years when the study began.
The children completed sleep diaries to track their sleep-wake patterns. They also wore an actigraph on their wrist for one week as an objective measure of sleep. Assessments were repeated one and two years later.
Results show that changes in sleep-wake patterns predicted an increase in pubertal development over time. But pubertal change did not predict sleep changes.
Over the course of the study the time when children went to sleep was delayed by 50 minutes. Sleep time was reduced by an average of 37 minutes.
The authors noted that these changes are a typical part of the transition to adolescence. Children begin to go to sleep and wake up later. They get less sleep and compensate by sleeping longer on the weekends. They also develop greater tolerance to extended periods of wakefulness.
The Israeli children in the study only have one “weekend” night during the school week. They are off on Saturdays but go to school on Sundays.
On Friday nights they went to sleep later and slept longer. But their sleep quality was worse than on school nights.
Lead author Avi Sadeh said that parents and educators can play an important role in helping children prioritize sleep as they grow and mature.
“It is very important for parents to be aware of the importance of sleep to their developing teenager,” Sadeh told the AASM. “School health education should also provide children with compelling information on how insufficient sleep compromises their well-being.”
The NICHD reports that puberty tends to occur between the ages of 10 and 14 in girls. In boys puberty typically occurs between the ages of 12 and 16.