"Catch Up" Sleep for Teens May Reduce Crash Risk

May 28, 2013

Our Colleagues from the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia recently published a study in JAMA Pediatrics that demonstrates it’s worth it to let your teen sleep in on weekends. Drowsy driving is a common cause of crashes involving teen drivers. Early school start times and after school activities can cut into precious sleep time required by adolescents, who need about 8 ½ to 9 ¼ hours of sleep a night.

The study of drivers 17 to 24 years of age showed that having only six hours of sleep a night was enough to increase relative crash risk for adolescent drivers. Those drivers who had less sleep on weekends were also at increased risk for run-off-road crashes. The crashes involving drivers with six or fewer hours of sleep were most likely to occur between 8 pm and 6 am.

Flaura Winston, CIRP@CHOP’s scientific director and founder, was asked to comment on the study for a Health Day article and provided practical advice for parents: let your teen sleep in on weekends and provide rides when you know your teen is tired. She also provided advice for policy: consider later school start times for high schools.