Thursday, July 29, 2010

The night life of the sleepy teenager

What is to be done about the teenagers? They are squandering sleeping time on electronic gadgets to the point where family life, studies and even health are compromised. And many parents either don’t see the problem or feel powerless to intervene. 

Make no mistake -- teens and their sleep, or lack of it, are one of the biggest topics in adolescent health. Study after study repeats that high school kids are not getting enough sleep and this affects their ability to learn, to focus --for example, on an activity like driving -- to keep healthy and fight obesity. 

For a while the researchers were hammering the hormone theory: the idea that the physical changes of adolescence change teens’ natural sleep rhythms and make it harder for them to go to bed early -- even though they have to get up early to get to school. (Can’t say that I noticed this during my years at boarding school, ever so long ago.) 

The circadian-change diagnosis of teens who fall asleep at their first class of the day is still on the table, along with proposals for starting classes later, but now we are hearing more and more about the sleep-disrupting properties of computers and smartphones, often in combination with more traditional media.READ MORE

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