Tag Archives: sleep health

Can’t Wake Up Your Teenager?

Can't wake up your teenager? Sleepy teenager imageDealing with teens, especially sleepy teens, isn’t an easy feat. Many parents struggle daily to wake up their teenagers in the morning reporting frequent arguments and continued frustration.  Some parents, in a desperate attempt to rouse their children from slumber, even employ such extreme tactics as splashing their kids with cold water, pricking them with a pin, or physically lifting  them up and dressing them for school despite protests. The teens may be late for school and likely quite drowsy during the first classes of the day. Tardiness, absences, slipping grades, and the arguments which ensue are exasperating for both parents and children alike.  So why do some teens struggle so much to wake up?  There are at least few plausible explanations.

Chronic sleep deprivation is the most common cause of the teenagers’ difficulties waking up in the morning.  It is well known teens spend a great deal of time on their various electronic devices, watching TV, and using social media. It is also true they have long school days, plenty of homework, and extracurricular activities to boot. High school is a time of increased academic pressure, and there is simply not enough time to squeeze everything into a 24 hour day. Meanwhile, many teens have a tendency to sleep late and/or take long naps on weekends. They subsequently have difficulty falling asleep in the evening. This can be compared to jet lag: Imagine traveling to Europe on weekends and returning to the U.S. on weekdays.

There are other well-recognized causes of the teenagers’ difficulty falling asleep and waking up in the morning at the expected times. Some teens consume energy drinks containing significant amounts of caffeine.  Caffeine can be a potent stimulant and may cause insomnia.  Additionally, some teenagers suffer from depression and anxiety. These problems can also be associated with excessive daytime sleepiness or/and insomnia.

Circadian sleep disorder is yet another common cause of teenager sleepiness. When it comes to sleep, teens are vulnerable to delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). DSPS is a type of circadian sleep disorder where, biologically, during puberty, the teens begin experiencing difficulty falling asleep until late at night. As a result, they have great difficulty getting up early in the morning and are not fully awake until the afternoon. Thus, their inability to get up in the morning may not be their fault with research suggesting teenagers’ body clocks may be simply out of synch. The cause of DSPS is not yet known, although there appears to be a genetic factor. It is therefore important parents understand that a teen with DSPS is not at fault for not being able to get to sleep earlier.

Furthermore, the mismatch between teens’ natural propensity to become “night owls” and early start time at high schools is an issue pediatricians and sleep medicine doctors have been trying to address for years. Most recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a statement titled “Let Them Sleep.” The AAP recommended delaying start times of middle and high schools to combat teen sleep deprivation. Doing so would align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty. The AAP urged middle and high schools to aim for start times that allow students to receive 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep a night. In most cases, this would mean a school start time of 8:30 a.m. or later, though schools should also consider average commuting times and other local factors. Despite this research, no discernible changes in schools’ start times across the nation can be seen.

How can parents help their teen’s sleep health?

  1. Practice good sleep habits from early childhood. A consistent bedtime, a consistent wake up time, and a consistent schedule on weekdays and weekends should be learned in early childhood and practiced throughout adolescence. TV’s and electronic devices should not be in children’s bedrooms.
  2. Poor sleep habits of parents affect their children. Parents should be practicing good sleep habits too.
  3. Teach children about the importance of sleep.
  4. Try to stay tuned into your adolescent’s school and extracurricular activities. Help them find the right balance.
  5. If your teens are struggling, they might need evaluation by their primary care doctor or a sleep medicine specialist.

25 Interesting Sleep Facts

  1. Insomnia sleep health facts Chicago Sleep CenterMan is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep.
  2. The higher the altitude, the greater the sleep disruption. Generally, sleep disturbance becomes greater at altitudes of 13,200 feet or more. The disturbance is thought to be caused by diminished oxygen levels and accompanying changes in respiration. Most people adjust to new altitudes in approximately two to three weeks.
  3. In general, exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. However, exercising sporadically or right before going to bed will make falling asleep more difficult.
  4. Divorced, widowed, and separated people report more insomnia.
  5. Six in ten healthcare professionals do not feel that they have enough time to have a discussion with their patients about insomnia during regular office visits.
  6. More than eight in ten survey respondents think that people often or sometimes misuse prescription sleep aids.
  7. Caffeine has been called the most popular drug in the world. All over the world people consume caffeine on a daily basis in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, some soft drinks, and some drugs.
  8. In general, most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours.
  9. We naturally feel tired at two different times of the day: about 2:00 AM and 2:00 PM. It is this natural dip in alertness that is primarily responsible for the post-lunch dip.
  10. Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise.
  11. According to the International Classifications of Sleep Disorders, shift workers are at increased risk for a variety of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases.
  12. Newborns sleep a total of 14 to 17 hours a day on an irregular schedule with periods of one to three hours spent awake.
  13. When infants are put to bed drowsy but not asleep, they are more likely to become “self- soothers,” which enables them to fall asleep independently at bedtime and put themselves back to sleep during the night.
  14. Eighty-two percent of healthcare professionals believe that it is the responsibility of both the patient and the healthcare professional to bring up symptoms of insomnia during an appointment.
  15. The body never adjusts to shift work!
  16. There are individual differences in the need to nap. Some adults and children need to nap. However, the majority of teenagers probably nap in the afternoon because they are not sleeping enough at night.
  17. Snoring is the primary cause of sleep disruption for approximately 90 million American adults; 37 million on a regular basis.
  18. Scientists still don’t know — and probably never will — if animals dream during REM sleep, as humans do.
  19. Some studies show promise for the use of melatonin in shortening the time it takes to fall asleep and reducing the number of awakenings, but not necessarily total sleep time. Other studies show no benefit at all with melatonin.
  20. One of the primary causes of excessive sleepiness among Americans is self-imposed sleep deprivation.
  21. According to the results of NSF’s 2008 Sleep in America poll, 36 percent of American drive drowsy or fall asleep while driving.
  22. According to the results of NSF’s 2008 Sleep in America poll, a surprising 34 percent of respondents reported their employer allows them to nap during breaks and 16 percent provide a place to do so.
  23. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase.
  24. Rates of insomnia increase as a function of age, but most often the sleep disturbance is attributable to some other medical condition.
  25. And did you know seasonal affective disorder is believed to be influenced by the changing patterns of light and darkness that occur with the approach of winter?

To learn more about your own sleep health, make an appointment with one of our sleep specialists today: (773) 296-5500.

*Information provided by the National Sleep Foundation.