Studies show that teens require an average of about 9.25 hours of sleep to be alert the next day. Yet most teens get less than 7 hours of sleep each night. Most teens are sleep deprived and sleepy.
There is a biological clock in the brain that is reset to a later time during puberty. This biological clock controls when you feel sleepy and alert. It also controls your body temperature. It even controls when your body releases melatonin and many other important hormones.
All of these body activities are reset to occur at later times during puberty and through the teen years. These changes happen around the age of 11 or 12 years. The specific age varies from one teen to another.
The result of this biological change is that teens may not feel sleepy until about 10 p.m. or much later. They are most alert in the evening. This also means that they are still sleepy and finishing their sleep at a later time in the morning.
To get 9.25 hours of sleep, a teen would need to sleep uninterrupted from 10 p.m. until 7:15 a.m. Yet many school start times begin as early as 7 a.m. This requires students to awaken at 6 a.m. or earlier to get to school on time. Sleeping only from 10 p.m. or later to 6 a.m. explains why most teens are sleepy during the day.
Falling asleep later may cause problems. Parents may think their teen has bad behavior or has insomnia. Falling asleep later and having to get up early for school leads to chronic sleep deprivation, which can cause these problems:
Later School Start Times
Some schools in Minnesota and in other states have moved their start times later. With the same bedtime, students were able to get more sleep. These were some of the positive results for students:
There were also some problems reported as a result of later school start times:
Tips to Help Teens Get the Sleep They Need
Teens and Sleep Loss
Sleep Tips for Students
Your Teen’s Bed Time
Teen Bed Times: Parent Tips
Signs Your Teen Needs Sleep
By Sharon L. Schutte-Rodin, MD
Updated on Dec. 16, 2009