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Sleep Deprivation: How Much Sleep Do Teens Need?

Posted Feb 27 2010 8:19pm

body clock and teens

Teens Body Clock

Everyone knows that teens are hard to rouse in the mornings. Getting them up in time for school is an ongoing battle and at the weekends you may not see them until dinner time. Where is the bubbly little kid that woke you at dawn only a few years ago?

Lately scientists have been telling us that teenagers have a different diurnal rhythm than the rest of us. They say that their sleep hormone, melatonin kicks in later than ours does  and that is why they stay up later and sleep in as long as they can in the morning. Yet they also tell us, teens require an average of 9.5 hours sleep a night. So they are continually sleep deprived and its all because of their body clock.

Do you believe in this? I have to say I am highly skeptical. Has it occurred to the researchers that the body clock is pushed forward because the teenagers retire late and sleep late in the morning? Going to bed late is exactly what causes this problem in anyone, not just in teens.

If teenagers are different from the rest of us how come this didn’t happen in years gone by? I went to a boarding school where we were woken at 6.30 am and went to bed at 9.00 pm throughout our teens. No- one  suffered from sleep deprivation and neither did we have trouble falling asleep when lights went out!

So I don’t buy it I am afraid. Teens need to be sent to bed in reasonable time and parents must ensure they turn off the lights, the computer, the cell phone and anything else that might stop their kid from going to sleep. Just like they did when their child was younger.

Sleep deprivation in teens must not be ignored as it will cause problems if not dealt with.  It can be the cause of  depression or moodiness and will severely impact on schoolwork.  If they are drivers they are very likely to have an accident by falling asleep at the wheel.

By setting a reasonable bed time and getting up time the teenager will not get sleep deprived and will regulate their body clock more easily. Don’t allow them to stay up all night at the weekend either as that will simply cause a problem on Monday. Make sure they go to bed in time to get their 9.5 hours sleep every night. You will find them much easier to live with if you do.

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