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Are Your Teenagers Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep is like food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activities occur. Considering that the recommended amount of sleep required for teenagers is 8-10 hours, it is safe to say that most teenagers are not sleeping enough.

Effects of teenage sleep deprivation include:

· Concentration difficulties

· “Drifting off” during class

· Memory impairment

· Moodiness

· Aggression

· Depression

· Poor decision making

· Risky behaviour

· Skin problems including acne

What exactly is keeping teenagers up so late?

Unfortunately, biology, technology and societal expectations are creating a constant state of chronic sleep deprivation in teens.

Biology: Along with the obvious hormone changes that occur during puberty, there are also shifts in sleep patterns and the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone) making it difficult to not fall asleep before 11pm.

Technology: It’s not just YouTube videos keeping kids up late at night. It’s the actual “blue light” emitted off all electronic devices keeping them up. Blue light tells our eyes/brain to suppress the production of melatonin which teens are already producing less of. It also stimulates the brain, and a stimulated brain is not a sleepy brain.

Societal Expectations: Between homework, overscheduling and earlier high school start times (often before 8am)... and considering the earliest that most teens to fall asleep is 11pm, it is safe to say they are not getting enough sleep during the week.

Remember that although they think they are grown, they still need our help! Try to encourage healthy sleep routines that include; no electronics at least 1 hour before bed, no caffeine after 9pm and a dark/quiet bedroom.

Sleep well!

Sleep and Teenagers Dr Scott Colasanti


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