Teens and sleep: Why they get so little and how to get it back on track

Tick, tock, tick, tock, RIIINNNGG. It’s 6 a.m. The alarm goes off and almost every teenager is dreading getting up after going to bed after midnight.

The average teenager sleeps only six to seven hours on a school night, but research studies done at The National Sleep Foundation show that they need at least nine hours each night.  For a 6 a.m. wake-up, that means shutting down the computer and shutting the eyelids by 9 p.m.

Mary Carskadon, professor at Brown University and director of Chronobiology and Sleep Research at Bradley Hospital, says that as kids become teenagers their circadian rhythm or “biological clock” tells them to stay up later and sleep in later. This is caused by the brain hormone melatonin being produced later at night.

Add melatonin to stress, sports, after-school activities, jobs, and homework, and mix in television, computers and late-night caffeine, and sleepy teens are a given.

Some students feel they have learned how to get enough sleep when needed.  “As my high school career has progressed, I have learned how to budget my time better and use the time I have wisely,” junior Haley Kocisko said.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, not getting enough sleep can lead to diabetes, depression, heart disease, and school issues. Teenagers who sleep less also tend to have trouble concentrating or listening during school.

Even though all these consequences seem scary, there are ways to get back on track:

  • Plan out your week ahead of time.
  • Take short naps after school.
  • Limit your after school activities.
  • Don’t exercise or drink caffeine right before bed.
  • Stick to a similar sleep schedule on the weekend.

By making these changes in their sleep schedules, teenagers could be back to catching more Z’s in no time.

One thought on “Teens and sleep: Why they get so little and how to get it back on track

  1. Interesting study, but from my own personal experience, it isn’t how much sleep you get, it’s during what cycle you wake up in. If you wake up from deep sleep, then you feel refreshed, alert, and awake. If you wake up from the middle of a dream, then you feel tired, drowsy, and not at all alert.

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