Ask any 10 full-time teenage students what their plans are while they’re away from their classes for the weekend and there’s a good chance that 9 of them will tell you “sleeping in.” While this is an ideal time for the student to get caught up on their rest, it’s just as important for their parents and teachers to know why sleep is such a priority for teens. It’s also an ideal time for school administrators and teachers to know what policies, and for parents to know what practices, contribute to the student’s lack of proper sleep.
What Research Tells Us
Numerous research studies have documented how healthy brain development depends on regularly getting a good night’s sleep. Not only is sleep required for healthier brain development, it’s vital to a person’s overall well-being. When a person is sleeping, the brain strengthens its neural pathways. These are interconnected neurons that enable signals to be transmitted from one region to another. These “pathways” help to cement what the student learned that day.
Further research has shown that exhaustion can lead to other mental and physical health issues including depression and headaches. Sleep is classified as an active state and is important for:
- brain development
- discharging emotions through dreaming
- energy conservation
- fighting infection
- memory consolidation
There are two distinct processes that regulate sleep. The first is our biological clock or “circadian” pacemaker. This is regulated by our neural pathways, hormones, and genes while at the same time being a response to daylight and a number of other external clues around us. The “homeostatic” process is the second. This reflects your need to be awake or to sleep. The longer you’re awake, the stronger it becomes. It plays a key role in our ability to fall asleep.
Effects of Puberty on Sleep
When you reach puberty, your circadian rhythms change. This is most likely attributed to the changes in one’s hormones. Adolescents typically delay the sleep phase by going to bed later and waking up after adults do. When there are delays in circadian rhythms, this oftentimes results in what is known as delayed sleep phase disorder or DSPD. Recent studies revealed that the presence of DSPD was associated with
- alcohol and tobacco use
- elevated anxiety and depression scores
- lower grades in school
The bottom line is that teenagers do not get an adequate amount of sleep. In many cases, this is associated with several adverse health issues including an increasing number of obese children. To ensure that your teenager is getting the recommended amount of sleep, start by examining the type of mattress they are sleeping on. If it’s time to replace it, consider the Snuz Mattress by Sleep Choices.
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