A good night’s sleep can have significant benefits for a teen’s psyche. Recent research by a Michigan State University team, published in the journal Child Development found that adequate sleep helps teenagers to cope with challenging social situations. This included problem-solving, coping with racial discrimination, and seeking peer support when required.
The team studied students in grade 9 for their research. The participants were required to wear an actigraphy watch that tracked their sleeping and awake cycles for two weeks. It also tracked their physical activity at every one-minute interval. They were asked to fill a survey every night before going to bed. The survey included questions on racial discrimination, their psychological state, and how they were coping with stress.
Significantly, they found that when the participants had a good night’s sleep, it helped them in coping with racial discrimination more effectively the next day. This was gauged by their problem-solving skills and their ability to seek out peer support. Surprisingly, they also found that peers were more important than parents when the teens needed immediate support in the face of racial discrimination.
“Understanding how sleep helps adolescents negotiate social challenges may consequently elucidate how promoting sleep may improve adolescent adjustment during high school and beyond,” said Yijie Wang, assistant professor of human development and family studies at MSU and one of the authors of the study.