Why are sleep experts chanting Sleep Teen Sleep...Sleep Teen Sleep? Because teens need a lot of sleep.
How much sleep?
Teen sleep research shows they need 9 hours 15 minutes per night. Some sleep experts say teens need 10 hours to function their best.
Problem is, it rarely happens.
In fact, when it comes to sleep, teen years may be the worst. Teenagers average a mere six to seven hours sleep per night.
Why is that? We'll take a look in a minute. But first...
How would you like some 16 year old barreling down on you with 4,000 pounds of hard steel—when she's asleep at the wheel?
Imagine if the reason Johnny can't read very well is because he slept through the first period of every class he ever took?
Suppose the problem with teen dropouts is not that they don't want to learn—it's that they're too darn tired to care enough to put in the effort?
In a word—nothing! It's just that sleep experts know a lot more about sleep—teen sleep included—than they did 30 years ago.
Simply, that teen sleep cycles are different. As kids move into the teen years, their circadian rhythm—or biological clock—undergoes a shift.
This shift is partly hormonal. The Washington Post (January 10, 2006) reported on an absolutely fascinating discovery made by sleep expert Mary Carskadon from Brown University. She led a team of researchers that measured levels of melatonin in teens' saliva at various times during the day.
If you don't know, melatonin is a hormone. Some researchers have called it an anti-aging hormone. But for purposes of this article, what you need to know is that melatonin is the sleep-promoting hormone that helps us all grow tired so we can get some ZZZZs.
In children and adults, melatonin begins to rise earlier in the evening as darkness rolls around. So children and parents are ready to hit the sack by 8, 9 or 10 o'clock.
But in teens, everything is skewered differently. In sleep cycles in teens, Dr. Carskadon discovered melatonin rises later than it does in children and adults. Typically, melatonin did not begin rising until between 10 and 11 p.m. and didn't stop until 8 a.m.
What does that mean? It means that Betty Jo wants to stay up until midnight and talk on her cell phone to her best teen friend...because neither teen is sleepy until much, much later in the evening. Plus, it means both teens are going to find it tough to get up when morning rolls around. And they'll be grouchy, dead tired, and not alert until well after 8 a.m. and even closer to noon.
Here's the rub though about this pattern of teen sleep. Teen school start times in America average between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. See the big problem here?
As I pointed out in my article, 16 Dangers of Teen Sleep Deprivation, (absolutely essential reading for every parent and school official)—the consequences of problem sleep—teen years—is often nothing short of a complete and total disaster.
This includes death, despair, and destroyed lives.
So what can be done about this? First, get yourself over to my article on 16 Dangers of Teen Sleep Deprivation. Read that and become very alarmed and informed. And below are more articles I've written on this topic.
Next, get on Facebook (see below). Share my articles with other parents you know about this sleep teen problem so you can all adopt a new battle cry when evening rolls around: Get Some Sleep Teen!
16 Dangers of Teen Sleep Deprivation Part 2
Teenage Sleep: 8 Steps to Restful Nights Part 1
Teenage Sleep: 8 Steps to Restful Nights Part 2
Extreme Teen Night Owls: Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome
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