H E A L T H:

Are You Tired?

According to sleep researchers, the average adult doesn't get enough sleep. Young people are the most sleep-deprived group of all.

Teens need about nine and a half hours of sleep a night.

Most teens get about 7 hours.

30% of high school students say they fall asleep in class at least once a week!


Why Do You Need To Sleep?

Nobody knows exactly what sleep does for the body. But we do know that everyone needs it. People once thought of sleep as quiet, down time for the body and the brain. But actually a lot of stuff goes on while we sleep - mysterious major chemical and electrical activity!

What happens when you're sleep-deprived?

Getting the right amount of sleep is important to your health. Not only does sleep deprivation make you... sleepy. It also causes:

  • Loss of initiative ("You want me to do what? Sure... maybe... later.")
  • Loss of energy (Your get-up-and-go, got up and went.)
  • Lapse of attention ("Uh.. Excuse me, could you repeat the question?")
  • Distractibility ("Then I got on the bus and...whoah! Did you see that?")
  • The overwhelming desire to sleep no matter what you are doing. ("Oh, good, a red light! I'll just take a little nap...")

Sleep loss builds up. If you go without the sleep that you need for too long you can weaken the body's ability to fight disease and repair injuries.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Everyone has their own sleep needs. Some people function well on just a few hours a night. Others need up to 12 hours to feel human. Babies and little kids and young children sleep a lot and one of the reasons is that growth occurs during sleep. Teens grow like crazy (especially between 13-16) that's one of the reasons sleep is so important.

Early Birds vs. Night Owls.

Everyone has a personal circadian rhythm. (Bet, you didn't know you had one of those!) It comes from the Latin words "circa" and "dies" and means "approximately one day." Throughout each 24 hour cycle, this internal clock controls our changing body temperatures, hormone production, hunger, alertness, sleepiness, and lots of other physical, mental, and emotional things.

Smooth running of your inner clock is critical to health and happiness.

When your body clock is out of tune you feel:

You might also be coming down with
way too many colds and infections.

Sleep and Emotions.

Too much sleep. Many people use sleep as a way of avoiding their feelings. Sometimes when you are overwhelmed with feelings of sadness and depression, you may sleep more and more and just want to stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head! Too much sleep can make you groggy and cloud your thinking and judgment. Eventually you have to get up and face whatever it is that has made you so sad.

Not enough sleep. Sometimes people get so upset and anxious about something they have trouble getting to sleep. Then they become over tired and in worse shape to deal with whatever is upsetting them. Sleep deprivation turns people into short fused, over reactive, basket cases!!!


Why Is All This Happening?

One of the biggest inner clock time bombs for teens is SLEEP.

When you're a kid you go to bed early and get up early, no problems. But when you become a teen, the clock shifts, making you want to go to sleep later and get up later.

You get into trouble when you go to bed later (like your body is telling you) but then you still have to get up early for school five days a week. When you start feeling out of it, it's because the amount of sleep you're getting is not in tune with your inner clock, and your body is protesting!


What Should You Do?

Teens need more sleep, not less. Early classes, late night studying, weekend social life, and the novelty of staying up late start to have a negative affect on teens.

What can you do to make things easier?

During the week give your body a break. Get the sleep you need!

On the weekends and holidays...

Stay up later (if you want) and sleep in the next morning.

Exercise plays a part in keeping your body clocks ticking in sync with your own personal rhythms. Regular aerobic exercise helps you sleep better and wake up refreshed.


Remember... It is important to listen to your body and get enough (but not too much) sleep so you can face whatever comes up in life with the clearest head and healthiest body possible!




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last updated November 19, 2005
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