ISHPEMING — Is it always a fight to get your teen to go to bed? It may not be a battle of wills so much as a battle against chemicals in their bodies.
Do you think the school day for your high school teen starts a little too early? Well you may be right.
Sleep Psychologist at National Jewish Health, Lisa Meltzer, PhD, says, “We have a school system set up that the youngest children, who are usually awake very early in the morning, are the ones that start school the latest; and our adolescents are asked to, literally, wake up and go to school and be there at a time when their brain should physiologically be asleep.”
A new study from National Jewish Health compared nearly 3,000 students who attend public and private schools and those who are home schooled and found that home-schoolers who did not have to wake up as early got an average of 90 extra minutes of sleep. You may be used to hearing that eight hours of sleep is healthy, but for a teen it’s closer to nine hours. But the study also shows that on average teens are only getting seven hours of sleep.
“If they need nine hours of sleep and they are only getting on average about seven hours of sleep,” added Meltzer, “by the end of school week they are 10 hours of sleep behind. I mean that’s more than a full night of sleep behind.”
So why not just send your teen to bed earlier? Meltzer says that it’s not that easy.
Officials say that melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, shifts about two hours during puberty. So even if your teens wanted to get to sleep earlier, they are fighting a losing battle with their natural body clock.
Meltzer says that because of chemicals in their bodies, teens naturally stay up later and says it would make more sense for high schools to start classes later in the morning. She says some ways to help the family get to sleep quicker is to keep all distracting electronics out of the room, don’t look at a screen 30 to 60 minutes before bed time and to set a consistent sleep routine, even on the weekends, to help regulate your body clock. One teen who had to undergo sleep therapy agrees.
Denver, Colo. Resident Caelin Jones says, “It won’t kill you, you can do without your cell phone for an hour and go to bed on time consistently – like anywhere within 10 minutes of a set time – and you should be good.”