Teens and sleep time

Most teens need about 8½ to more than 9 hours of sleep each night. Getting the right amount of sleep is essential for anyone who wants to do well on a test or play sports without stumbling. Unfortunately, though, many teens don't get enough sleep.

Why Don't Teens Get Enough Sleep?
Until recently, teens often got a bad rap for staying up late, oversleeping for school, and falling asleep in class. But recent studies show that adolescent sleep patterns actually differ from those of adults or kids.

Experts say that during the teen years, the body's circadian rhythm (sort of like an internal biological clock) is temporarily reset, telling a person to fall asleep later and wake up later. This change might be due to the fact that the brain hormone melatonin is produced later at night for teens than it is for kids and adults. This can make it harder for teens to fall asleep early.

These changes in the body's circadian rhythm coincide with a busy time in life. For most teens, the pressure to do well in school is more intense than when they were kids, and it's harder to get by without studying hard. And teens also have other time demands — everything from sports and other extracurricular activities to working a part-time job to save money for college.

Early start times in some schools also might play a role in lost sleep. Teens who fall asleep after midnight may still have to get up early for school, meaning that they might squeeze in only 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night. A few hours of missed sleep a night may not seem like a big deal, but it can create a noticeable sleep deficit over time.

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