The sleep problem
“Almost all teenagers in this country are sleep-deprived,” says Maida Chen, M.D., associate director of the Pediatric Sleep Center at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center and a sleep researcher at the University of Washington. Most modern teens get between six and seven hours of sleep on school nights, but their bodies really require closer to nine or 10. Research finds that during the teen years, the body’s circadian rhythm (or internal body clock) is different from that of younger children and adults. It tells teens to fall asleep later at night and wake up later in the morning. “A younger child is happy to go to bed at 8 on school nights, but starting about age 14, teens just can’t fall asleep until closer to 10 or 11,” Chen says. She describes this as the “circadian delayed sleep phase” and says it’s a hormonally driven stage of life lasting into the early twenties.
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