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Adjusting to a new sleep pattern at the beginning of the school year can lead to disturbed rest, daytime fatigue, and changes in mood and concentration in teenagers.

Although they need eight to ten hours of sleep per night to maintain physical healthemotional well-being and success in schoolaccording to the National Sleep Foundation and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, most teens get fewer than eight, especially on school nights.

A study from RUSH was recently published in the journal SLEEP sheds light on how teens can turn a blind eye more.

“There are a lot of changes that a teenager goes through,” said Stephanie J. Crowley, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Pediatric Chronobiology and Sleep Research Program at RUSH. “One in particular is the change in sleep biology that occurs during puberty.”

brain systems which control sleep changes in such a way that it is easier for a teenager to stay awake until the evening. One of those systems, the 24-hour circadian clock, shifts later in time,” Crowley said.

So there are two competing forces. One is going to bed earlier than the school schedule, and the other is the biological changes that naturally occur in a teenager’s body.

Because of this complex conflict, RUSH researchers decided to test a two-week intervention that targets the circadian system through various behavioral measures and attempts to help teenagers come up with a better night routine.

To fight with teenagers lack of sleep, researchers used bright light therapy on two weekend mornings for a total of 2.5 hours. The bright light causes the internal clock to wake up a little earlier. This shift should make it easier for the teenager to fall asleep at the appropriate time.

Less tired and irritable

Crowley and her team then helped counter sleep deprivation by providing time management tools and removing barriers to going to bed earlier, such as limiting certain activities after school.

The researchers were able to shift the teenagers’ bedtime earlier by an hour and a half, and their total sleep time increased by about an hour.

“What’s interesting is that teenagers with late clocks were set two hours earlier,” Crowley said. “And the teenagers who had before daily clock didn’t have to move before. They simply needed behavioral support in trying to manage their time in the evening and increase their sleep duration.’

The researchers also found that the teenagers in the intervention group were less tired, less irritable and less anxious, and they showed better concentration. The students’ morning vigor also improved.

RUSH researchers are following participants in another study to determine whether the teens were able to maintain their improved sleep patterns.

School start times and late screen time exacerbate sleep deprivation in American teenagers

Additional information:
Stephanie J. Crowley et al., Enhancing Weekday Night Sleep in Delayed Adolescents Using Bright Light on Weekend Mornings and Evening Time Management, SLEEP (2022). DOI: 10.1093/sleep/zsac202/6675675. … leep/zsac202/6675675

Information about the magazine:
to sleep

Citation: Researchers Find Ways to Help Teens Get Sleep (October 3, 2022) Retrieved October 3, 2022, from

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