The Washington Post looks at why teenagers today often do not get enough sleep and how getting some extra slumber can benefit their health.

After a Colorado school district moved its high school start time from 7:10 a.m. to 8:20 a.m., it found that students reported getting an average of 48 minutes more sleep a night and they said they felt less sleepy and generally more engaged in academics. The district also adjusted the middle school start time — from 8 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. — and researchers found that middle-schoolers began logging an average of 31 minutes more sleep each night.

The researchers surveyed more than 15,000 Cherry Creek School District high school and middle school students a year after the start times were changed and found that fewer students reported feeling too sleepy to do their homework (down from 46 percent to 35 percent among middle-schoolers and down from 71 percent to 56 percent among high school students), while scores on a measure of academic engagement improved.

Besides the potential positives for academics, longer and better-quality sleep for teens also has been found to contribute to lower blood pressure, better cholesterol levels and less likelihood of being overweight, researchers reported last year in the journal Pediatrics.

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