PUBLISHED: 10:26 AM on Tuesday, September 5, 2006
Students should get quality zzzzzzs
Wake-up calls
Most students feel like college sophomore Michael Clery when it comes to nighttime slumber.

"If I could get through life without sleep, I would get so much done," said Clery, 19, after purchasing a bag of full city roast Ethiopian coffee - "which my sister says has more caffeine."

Unlike most students, the Spanish major and pre-med student would skip his sleep in the early hours while others prefer to forgo it late at night. Either way, experts say the down time is critical, especially for students. And with classes just beginning, it's usually a habit they need to return to.

Timothy Hoban, M.D., a sleep specialist, said students should plan ahead for a smooth transition to a new sleep schedule.

Parents play a key role as guides, starting with their own sleep habits. Parental behavior, he said, is an important indicator of the whole household's attitude.

"It's not easy, especially after a long and lazy summer, to get the kids to bed early and then wake them up in the morning," Hoban said.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10-12 hours sleep for elementary school children; up to nine hours for teens.

Chronic sleep deprivation can hurt grades because sleepy students won't retain lessons, Hoban said, but can also be unhealthy.

"Some research also suggests they're more likely to be overweight," he said.

This fall, Clery's armed with what he called a "very loud" alarm clock, to combat his tendency to fall back to sleep in the morning, and caffeine once he gets out of bed.

"But I haven't had any coffee yet today," he said at 10 a.m. on a weekday. "And I'm doing OK."