Recently the “sociologist” in me prompted an experiment with my peers in which I asked them, “How do you manage a tired teenager?” The most common response was, “Where do you want me to start?” The answers were often accompanied by deep sighs and marked frustration, with a heavy accentuation on “where” and “start.”

The causes of tired teens may seem obvious to many doctors and parents: get enough sleep and all will be well; blame electronics and get rid of smartphones at bedtime, thus reducing the odds of disrupting normal physiology and “changing” teens into vampires who text sexual messages long after midnight (This habit is known as “sexting” and “vamping.”)

When we meet with tired teens, pathology plays a far smaller part than the impact of lifestyle choices, and if we truly care more about the patient than the disease, we learn so much more about families we encounter.

According to the Yale Sleep Clinic for Children and Youth, only 10 per cent of teens consistently get the required amount of sleep every 24 hours (ideally between eight and 10 hours of sleep is suggested). Dr. Craig Canapari, who directs this clinic, laments the fact that many parents are poor role models when it comes to a healthy sleep routine.

We know by now that a teenager’s brain is still under construction. The common understanding is that this “evolution” ends around 25 years. We also know that teens have different biorhythms. Teens tend to get sleepy late at night and they are slow to wake up in the mornings.

Despite this established research, science has been impotent in convincing school boards to allow teens to start school a bit later in the mornings. A few jurisdictions got in sync with this fact, but the majority of schools in North America will continue to …read more

Source:: Calgary Herald

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