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eenagers stay up late. They always have. Back in the day, we’d read or talk to friends on our rotary dial phones. Today, teens can be found texting, surfing the web or tweeting until long after their parents have hit the hay. To make up for their night owl tendencies, they often sleep in the next day — a problem during the school week. As a result of their disordered sleep patterns, 85 per cent of teenagers aren’t getting enough zzzs, and yet, they need their shut-eye just as much as they did when they were toddlers. Sleep boosts their brain power and fuels their body’s immune system. Problem is, their biological wiring keeps them up late while school forces them to wake up early. The result: irritable, tired, overweight kids who are suffering from preventable conditions such as diabetes, depression and anxiety. They’re also at a higher risk of developing common ailments such as cold and flu. What’s a parent to do? You can’t force your teen to fall asleep, but there are ways you can help them sleep better and longer.

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Why do they stay up so late? We have biology to thank for this one. According to Dr. Mary Carskadon, director of the Chronobiology & Sleep Research at EP Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island, our bodies have two systems that work together to keep teens up later. The first, our daily circadian rhythm, gets later during adolescence, making the optimal time for sleep a bit later than it was when kids were younger. The second, called homeostasis sleep pressure, has to do with a sleep build-up that happens during the day and dissipates at night. Dr. Carskadon says this pressure builds more slowly in teens, making the brain ready to sleep at a later time. How much sleep do they need? “Most teens sleep about seven hours a day when they need about nine to 10 hours a day consecutively,” says Dr. Claire LeBlanc, chair of the CPS Active Kids, Healthy Kids Project Advisory Committee. Work backwards from their wake-up time to determine when they should head to bed. If they need to be up at seven, lights should be out around nine. On

the weekends, it’s OK to push bedtime later, as long as they’re still getting the recommended amount by sleeping in. Why do teens need so much sleep? When you’re asleep, your brain cleans out the gunk that builds up during the day, says Dr. Carskadon. “Like the housekeeping at your office building that comes at night, there’s housekeeping that comes in your brain when you sleep and cleans it up.” Sleep is also the time when a teen’s brain processes and consolidates what she has learned during the day. It can help to enhance a kid’s mood, lead to better eating habits and keep him more alert during the day. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, can make teens even more irritable and cranky than they already are, and research proves that kids who lack sleep are more likely to become sick with colds and flu due to a weakened immune system. Why aren’t teens getting enough sleep? Cellphone, tablet and computer use delays an adolescent’s desire to sleep while keeping

Profile for INBETWEEN Magazine

INBETWEEN Dec/Jan 2014-2015  

Our holiday issue is packed with fun stories crafted for every parent of a teen! Featuring stunning gift guides and getting glowing skin to...

INBETWEEN Dec/Jan 2014-2015  

Our holiday issue is packed with fun stories crafted for every parent of a teen! Featuring stunning gift guides and getting glowing skin to...