Blame It on Your Internal Clock

Created on 13 April 2017

Early in the morning, teenagers will do anything to sleep in until the last minute before they head to school, often at the expense of being labeled lazy and irresponsible.

Middle and high-schoolers typically require 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., nearly 6 in every 10 middle school students and 9 in 10 high school students are sleeping too little. One study by the same organization found out that on school nights only 15% get 8 1/2 hours of sleep.

The teenagers' body clock is to blame for their lack of sleep. The production of melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the body is most active later in the day in teens compared to people of other age groups. Melatonin plays a role in making a person feel drowsy by lowering the body’s core temperature. Naturally, a teenager will feel drowsy and not fully focused and aware in the morning, and s/he will have more trouble sleeping early at night.

Moreover, a natural process which directs the body’s sleep schedule, also known as sleep pressure, internal clock or circadian rhythm, takes the rest of the blame for the teens' late nights. The way it works depends on the time of day; the closer night time is the stronger the signal grows. However for a teenager, this pressure takes longer to register to make her/him sleepy, therefore making almost every teen a night owl.

Teenagers who are sleep deprived are more prone to making bad decisions related to drugs, alcohol, and sex and even smaller everyday tasks such as focusing in a math or English or science period. Many teens also suffer from sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.sleep

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