Teenagers may not be to blame for sleeping in late

Published On: Mar 11 2013 03:25:59 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 06 2013 06:25:14 PM EST

Experts now believe teenagers might not be able to fall asleep as early as others.


If a teenager is struggling to get out of bed in the morning, it might not be their fault.

Caelin Jones struggles to get up at 6 a.m. each morning, and said sometimes it takes hours for his mind to fully wake up.

"I would get to school and pretty much be the same as all the other kids. We were all just bleary eyed," said Caelin Jones.

Experts now believe teenagers might not be able to fall asleep as early as others.

"It's not just that they don't want to, or that they have a lot of activities or Facebook or homework time, which they do as well, but they physiologically can't fall asleep earlier anymore,' said sleep researcher Dr. Lisa Meltzer.

Meltzer, a sleep psychologist, said the production of melatonin shifts by about two hours in teenagers. Melatonin is the hormone that helps regulate our sleep patterns.  With their sleep shifting, teenagers need to sleep later in the morning, but often can't because of their school schedule.

Meltzer compared typical students to those who are homeschooled and discovered that on average, teenagers who are homeschooled sleep 90 minutes more a night. She found they wake up nearly 20 minutes after other schools have started.  In public and private schools, nearly half of all students don't get enough sleep.

"It impacts every aspect of functioning. so you think about academics, they're ability to learn, concentrate, pay attention, is all diminished when you haven't had enough sleep," said Meltzer.

Experts said schools that have moved start times back report less tardiness among teenagers and higher graduation rates.  Local 4 medical expert Dr. Frank McGeorge also recommends teenagers turn off their phones at least an hour before bed for a good night sleep.


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