Do you remember dragging yourself out of bed for high school, then struggling to stay awake during class? You were not alone in this. Physiologically, teens are set to go to sleep later, and get up later. Unfortunately school start times require that students be alert and functioning before their bodies are awake. The good news is that a national movement to start schools later is gathering momentum, and you can join in!
Teen Body Clocks
As part of puberty, the circadian rhythm or ‘body clock’ shifts later. Research in the last couple years has shown that this shift to later hours happens early in puberty, before other changes may appear. Decades ago it was thought teens’ late hours were because they enjoyed late-night socializing or sadly some teens were called ‘lazy’ because they slept late. We now know these sleep hours are based on their physiology.
This shift can contribute to teens being sleep deprived in that they aren’t able to go to sleep earlier in the night because they aren’t sleepy, but yet they have to get up at a time they are sleeping well to go to school. Research shows 80% of high school students are significantly sleep deprived, that’s a higher percentage than adults!
Help your Teen get Adequate Sleep
First, figure out how much sleep your teenager needs each night. It might help to remember a vacation when s/he was sleeping on their own schedule and was rested & energetic during the day. Next, plan to get up at the latest time for school, and count backwards to determine the bedtime that allows enough sleep. If it is not possible to go to bed at that time during the week, allow extra time for sleep on weekends.
Sometimes teens aren’t able to fall asleep even when they are in bed at a reasonable time. This is because their body clock is shifted later. They may need medical help to shift their body clock earlier.
Help Change Teens Sleep Nationally
In the last several months an effort to Start School Later has grown. There is a national petition to legislate that schools not start before 8am. This will be presented to Congress during National Sleep Awareness Week, March 5-11. Please join this effort to improve the teen sleep and the entire teen experience by signing this today (it will take 2 minutes). My hope is that we can change generations of teen experience of highschool and that time of life.
Sign the petition today!http://signon.org/sign/promote-legislation-to.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=1521139