Your Healthy Family

Apr 1, 2013 11:24 AM by Marissa Torres

Study shows teens can't help their tiredness

If you have a teenager, you know that getting them out of bed and off to school can be a challenge in the morning-- especially this time of year when we lose an hour of sleep.

It was only after he underwent sleep therapy that Caelin Jones felt like he could fully function in the mornings. For years his alarm went off at six, but for hours his mind struggled to catch up.

"I would get to school and pretty much be the same as all the other kids. we were all just bleary eye and kind of like, 'why are we here at this time? i don't want to be here!"

That's not an uncommon attitude for teenagers, but it may not entirely be their fault. Experts say try as they might, teenagers simply can't fall asleep as early as others.

"it's not just that they don't want to, or that they have a lot of activities or Facebook or homework time, which they do as well. but they physiologically can't fall asleep earlier anymore."

Lisa Meltzer is a sleep psychologist at National Jewish Health in Denver and says the production of Melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate our sleep, shifts by about two hours in teenagers. Because of that, they need to sleep later in the morning, but most public and private schools don't allow it.

So to see how that impacts teens she compared typical students to those who are home-schooled. What she found in this first of a kind study was eye opening.

On average, teens who are home-schooled sleep 90 minutes more a night. In fact they wake up nearly 20 minutes after other schools have started. And in public and private schools, nearly half of all student's don't get enough sleep.

"And it impacts every aspect of functioning. So you think about academics, they're ability to learn, concentrate, pay attention, is all diminished when you haven't had enough sleep."

It also effects everything from a teenager's mood to their ability to drive, which is why Meltzer is using this study to urge schools to rethink their hours.

Experts say schools that have moved start times report less tardiness among teenagers and higher graduation rates. They insist that this study doesn't mean that those who are homeeschooled are better students, but they are more rested.



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