We all remember our teenage years. Besides having to deal with skin problems, acne one of my worst nightmares at the time, and the rest of bodily changes, mood swings often accompanied by intense tantrums as well as extreme laziness and irritability were a constant reminder that we are leaving childhood behind.
These, so-called, attitude problems are seen in all teenagers since their body releases large amounts of life-changing hormones. A new study, however, published in the journal of Learning, Media and Technology, revealed that this rude teen behavior is strongly related to lack of sleep.
As already mentioned in one of my previous articles, sleep is not a luxury but a necessity, as is nutrition and exercise, for optimal health. We are all familiar with the the impact nutrition and exercise have on our life and health. The same doesn’t apply to sleep, though. People who fail to get sufficient sleep, especially on a regular basis, are prone to chronic health problems.
During adolescence, sleep patterns change as teens are full of energy and stay up late. This has nothing to do with their eagerness to mark their “passage” to adulthood; it is all down to pure biology.
According to the team leading the research, it is at that time of human development that “the conflict between social and biological time is greater than at any point in our lives”. More specifically, our sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, is the result of a complex balance between states of alertness and sleepiness regulated by a part of the brain called Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SNC).
In puberty, shifts in our body clocks push optimal sleep later into the evening thus making it extremely difficult for most teenagers to fall asleep before 11.00pm. This, coupled with early school starting in the morning, results in chronically sleep-deprived and cranky teens as well as plummeting grades and health problems.
Even though there is a body of evidence demonstrating the benefits of synchronizing education times with teens’ body clocks, educators still fail to grasp that is not laziness that keeps teens in bed in the morning but their biological clocks.
A good night’s sleep does more than help them stay alert at school; it helps them grow into healthy adults. So, next time you want your teenage daughter or son’s mood to perk up, the least you can do is urge them to take a nap.