by Gary Wolf
You may have a consistently tired teenager with schools starting before 8 a.m. Teenagers do need more sleep when their bodies start puberty. Getting enough sleep is not as easy to achieve at that age. Bodies are growing, their hormones are surging and changing. These body changes require more sleep for repair and growth than an adult body, which is full grown.
Why do teenagers seem to always grow more in the summer? It isn't just a coincidence. Teens are finally able to get the amount of sleep they require to be healthy over these few months when they don't have to wake early in the morning to make it to school before the bell rings. Consider this: the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has asked for schools to start no earlier than 8:30. Some schools are in first period at 8:00 a.m. Some schools have already been taking notice and are starting at 9 a.m. so they can properly grow, learn and score better on tests. Most schools and school boards are run by adults that want to start early. Out of more than 19,000 public schools, only 1,000 have start times than 8:00 a.m. Teachers and their school boards are discarding the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics in spite of the medical evidence.
This puts your child's health and sleep health back on you. Included here are some guidelines for your child specific analysis in regards to his sleep health. Teenagers normal sleep time is around eleven at night to 7:00 o'clock in the morning which will give the minimum of eight (8) hours. This is not enough because our teenagers need between 9 and 10 hours of sleep hours of sleep each and every night. Consult the When to Sleep calculator to determine if your teenager should be going to sleep at 10 p.m. or possibly starting his sleep routine at that time. Read more on determining the right amount of sleep for a person of any age.
During the teenage years, teens feel more awake at night effecting their circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is the bodies clock that regulates your sleep patterns and it can be effected by the light emitted from electronic devices like smart phones. "Teens have all the same risks of light exposure, but are systematically sleep deprived because of how society works against their natural clocks. Asking a teenager to get up at 7a.m. is like asking me to get up at 4 a.m." says Steven Lockley, sleep researcher at Harvard Medical School. Staying up a little later and watching a tv show before bed or texting in bed or checking facebook may actually be depriving them of sleep.
Not getting that extra couple of hours at night can lead to partial sleep deprivation. Studies do show that teenagers who get the proper amount of sleep will make better grades. The teenager who drives will be less likely to be in an automobile accident with adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation can even cause changes in mood (for the worse), reduce productivity, increase errors, reduce attention and vigilance, and even cause false memories and memory recall problems. Sound familiar?
These are just the more noticeable short term side effects of sleep deprivation. The ones that are overlooked are the ones cause by a decrease in hormone production. The body replenishes and excretes hormones while we sleep. The most import of these for a growing body is human growth hormone. A chronic lack of sleep can actually be stunting a teenagers growth. This is not a good thing, particularly for boys.
Existing research shows that lack of sleep during formative years can lead to major health problems in their adult years, such as heart disease, obesity, and can damage overall mental health. Obesity in childhood increases your risk of obesity in adulthood which in turn is linked to increased cancer risks. Teens who get the proper amount of sleep have a lower risk of obesity and a lower risk of suffering from depression during childhood. Medical Considerations: If you have the thought that your teenager may have a medical issue like sleep apnea, etc., you should seek medical advice, sooner rather that later.
If your teen insists on staying up later of having a later curfew to hang out with friends, perhaps only allow that sort of behavior when sleeping the next day is an option. Fridays, Saturdays, and three day weekends just like adults. While your teen may put up a fight on getting to bed on time, the positive health benefits of getting the right amount of sleep for their age will be worth the extra hassle.
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