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The science on how much sleep teenagers truly need

Hey parents of sleepy teens… this video is for you.

Depending on how old your teens are, their staying up late, struggling to rise with the alarm clock, and snoozing until noon on weekends, may be familiar to you. Let’s see if we can unpack why that happens, biologically.

One reason adolescents become night owls is due simply to the demanding lifestyle at this stage in life – which includes heavy loads of homework and busy social lives. But another, more natural reason is triggered by a unique biological shift that occurs during the teenage years.

Scientists have known for a long time now that our biological clocks shift forward during adolescence. So, instead of feeling drowsy in the evenings, teenagers tend to become more alert and have a difficult time settling into sleep (likely because melatonin, which causes sleepiness, is secreted on a delayed timetable).

By the same token, in the mornings – when young children and adults are wide-awake and primed for the day – teenagers maintain elevated melatonin levels, and often feel groggy as a result. And this is exactly why the chorus of doctors and school administrators advocating for later high school start times has grown louder in recent years. A teen who rises for school at 6.30am is fighting against a biological force of sleepiness, and later in the day might find it difficult to doze off in time to make-up for this lost sleep.

So, how can we work with and not against our teens’ natural brain processes? Take a look to find out more.

View the original video here.

Good Living is the Cyprus Mail’s portal of curated content from across the internet, showcasing local and global ideas, cultural highlights, and scientific and technological developments to inspire a sustainable life.

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