Young people need to sleep smarter

We humans cannot survive without sleep. After several days without sleep we will completely collapse. Yet the number of hours people sleep per night varies. On average, Dutch people sleep about 7 to 7.5 hours per night. This is actually too little according to European guidelines. Sleeping is poor, especially among young people. Poor sleep is not good for the day and night rhythm. Young people should sleep smarter, because it has many benefits. Residents of the provinces of Groningen and Friesland sleep the shortest on average: around 6 hours per night. This is evident from data from The Great National Survey. At the beginning of 2012, GNO conducted research into the sleep rhythm of Dutch people.

The fact that there is so little sleep in the province of Groningen could be due to the large number of young people. With around 50,000 students, Groningen is a real youth city and young people sleep little. Research by Ed de Bruin from the University of Amsterdam shows that 20% of young people between the ages of 12 and 19 have chronic sleep deprivation. It also appears that even two-thirds of young people sleep less than the Universally offered guidelines. They indicate that young people should sleep 9.2 hours per night. Too little sleep is very bad. It confuses the day and night rhythm. Young people should sleep more so that they can get into a good day and night rhythm. This has several advantages.

Less chance of being overweight

Firstly, young people are less likely to be overweight if they get enough sleep. Research from Maastricht University showed that young people who lack sleep become fatter than peers who get a good night’s sleep. Research from the University of Chicago also showed that little sleep and obesity have a link. Young people who sleep little are more likely to snack than young people who sleep well. This is of course also because you are awake longer. Then you eat more, because your day actually lasts longer.

Better performance at school

Secondly, a good day and night rhythm ensures better performance at school. Young people tend to go to sleep late and get up late. This changes their day and night rhythm. We as people nowadays live in a 24-hour economy. We work, live and travel across all time zones. Gerard Kerkhof, professor of psychophysiology at the University of Amsterdam: More and more people have a disrupted biological clock. We allow ourselves less sleep, while at the same time the world has become more complex and we therefore have to be more alert. We actually confuse our own sleep rhythm. This is worse in young people than in adults. Young people go out and are busy until late at night. The next morning they sleep late. So they don’t even have very little sleep, but because they have to get up early on other days, their sleep rhythm gets confused. Young people’s bodies are sometimes still prepared for sleep in the morning, which means they are less able to concentrate and make more mistakes.

The sleep center of the Antwerp University Hospital conducted research into the sleeping behavior of young people. It turned out that young people with a good, stable sleep rhythm are better able to pay attention to their activities. This means they store information better and get better results on tests. Young people who do not have a stable sleep rhythm will also have poorer sleep quality. This will make them feel sleepier during the day, even if they have slept long enough.

More energetic and fitter

You can sometimes be fitter after a seven-hour night than after a ten-hour night. This is due to the quality of sleep. The better and deeper you sleep, the faster you rest. A good day and night rhythm can ensure that you sleep better and therefore rest faster.

So you can see that there are many benefits if you have a good day and night rhythm. If young people slept better, they would generally be healthier, perform better and be fitter during the day. These benefits are not only nice for the young people themselves, but also for others.