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PDSS reliable in measuring impact of sleep disorders on teens' academic performance

WESTCHESTER, Ill. The Pediatric Daytime Sleepiness Scale (PDSS) is an independent, reliable tool in predicting the negative impact of a sleep-related breathing disorder and daytime sleepiness on a teenagers academic performance, according to a study published in the December 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Daniel Perez-Chada, MD, of Hospital Universitario Austral in Buenos Aires, Argentina, focused on 2,884 students, whose answers to a Spanish version of the PDSS were provided by their parents.

According to the results, 49 percent of the students reported sleeping less than eight hours per night on weeknights while 83 percent slept less than eight hours per night on weekends. Snoring was reported by 23 percent of the subjects, occasional in 14 percent and frequent in nine percent. Witnessed apneas were witnessed in 11 percent of the cases, being frequent in four percent and occasional in seven percent. Reported snoring or apneas and the PDSS were independent predictors of poor academic performance, as snorers had lower mean grades in mathematics and language.

While students in other populations attempt to catch up on sleep debt during weekends, youngsters in our sample seemed to aggravate their sleep debt by further reducing sleep time on weekends, said Dr. Perez-Chada. Thus, this population appears to be at a strikingly high risk for chronic sleep debt. This and other sleep problems need to be confronted through education and enhanced diagnosis of a sleep related breathing disorder as well as changing poor sleep habits among adolescents.

According to Dr. Perez-Chada, taking into account the ease of administration of this scale, the PDSS has a potential role as a clinical tool in the practitioners office to evaluate sleepiness and predict academic failure.

Parents recall of snoring and apneas in their children can be easily collected during medical evaluation and used as an indicator of risk of disease and poor academic performance, added Dr. Perez-Chada.

Experts recommend that teens get about nine hours of sleep each night.

The following tips are provided by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) to help teens get the most out of their sleep. Parents should be aware of these guidelines and should use them to help their teen develop healthy sleep habits:

  • Try to get close to nine hours of sleep each night. Get enough sleep so that you wake up refreshed and alert for the day.
  • Try to wind down and relax before bedtime. Avoid intense studying, arguing and exercising. Stop playing video or computer games and enjoy some quiet time before bed.
  • Avoid bright lights in the evening. Darkness lets your body know its time to sleep.
  • Try to get bright light in the morning. This helps reset your clock for the next night. Turn on bright lights and open your blinds when you get up. Getting exercise in the morning also may help.
  • Try to catch up on any lost sleep when you can. Naps can be helpful to catch up with lost sleep, but dont nap in the evening. Sleeping later on weekends can help catch up with lost sleep. But do not sleep later than two to three hours past your normal weekday wake up time, especially on Sunday mornings.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol can disturb your sleep. Do not drink alcohol. The combined effects of sleepiness with alcohol are very dangerous.
  • Do not drive if you are sleepy. Driving sleepy can be as dangerous as driving drunk.


Contact: Jim Arcuri
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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