Teens aren't getting enough sleep, but you may be surprised to learn that a major factor in their sleep habits could be physical changes. Adolescent sleep patterns are different from those of adults and kids for a reason. During the teenage years, the body's circadian rhythm -- its internal clock -- resets, and it tells the teen to fall asleep later. Researchers believe that the brain hormone melatonin is responsible; it's produced later at night in teens than for other age groups. The result? It's more difficult for teens to fall asleep early.
You can't be your best when you're not getting enough sleep, and this is even more critical for teens who are growing and developing physically and mentally. The pressures kids face to do well in school and meet time demands for sports and other extracurricular activities often means they sacrifice sleep to fit everything else into their busy schedules.
Your teen's sleep deficit slows his responses and concentration, and can affect everything from school and sports performance to safety while driving. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration has estimated that more than 100,000 accidents every year occur because of drowsiness -- and young people are a big percentage of those statistics.
Teens may insist that they are getting enough sleep, but they need at least eight to nine hours every night. Your teen may need more sleep if he has trouble waking up in the morning, difficulty concentrating, and/or feelings of depression and moodiness. Sleep helps him be physically healthy by slowing the body's system enough to re-energize, and prevents emotional problems that can be brought on by sleep deprivation.
Mary Glasier, M.D., suggests several strategies to get your teen ready for an easier transition from energetic daily activities to restorative sleep. She believes preparing for a regular bedtime and following a routine allows the body to welcome sleep and adjusts the teen's internal clock. Help your teen reset her body clock to get the sleep she needs with a few changes in her habits:
For health and happiness, insist that your teen get an adequate amount of sleep. The suggested eight to nine hours of sleep nightly will show in her physical, emotional and mental health.
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