Help for sleepy, moody teens

sleepy teen

In case you missed the latest issue of Chronobiology International, they published new findings which speak to the physiological changes which occur in a teens body making them stay up later and the effects of the subsequent sleep deprivation. In the spring, extended daylight exposure will delay the onset of nocturnal melatonin which tells the body to go to sleep. For teens this is a disaster. They stay up late, then early sunrise causes them to wake up early. The loss in sleep is significant and can affect behavior.

“Biologically, this increased exposure to early evening light in the spring delays the onset of nocturnal melatonin, a hormone that indicates to the body when it’s nighttime,” explains Mariana Figueiro, PhD, associate professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center (LRC).

Sleep deprivation and mood changes are known in teens to cause obesity and academic under-performance.

The study explored the sleep patterns of 16 eighth graders. In the spring, they experienced a delay in melatonin onset by an average of 20 minutes. Melatonin levels normally start rising two to three hours before a person falls to sleep. The students also noted in their logs a delay of sleep averaging sixteen minutes and a general 15 minute loss in sleep every night.

“The latest study supplements previous work and supports the general hypothesis that the entire 24-hour pattern of light/dark exposure influences synchronization of the body’s circadian clock with the solar day and thus influences teenagers’ sleep/wake cycles,” explains Figuero. “As a general rule teenagers should increase morning daylight exposure year round and decrease evening daylight exposure in the spring to help ensure they will get sufficient sleep before going to school.”

Source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, ScienceDaily


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