Regularity of Sleep Counts More than Quantity of Sleep in Teens

Teens need to have a regularly established sleep pattern in order to minimize their snacking, and their propensity to gain abnormal amounts of weight.

The medical association recommends that teens get eight full hours of sleep each night. The majority of teens get less than seven hours of sleep each night. For many years, this lack of sleep has been a huge concern of educators, parents, and medical professionals, but the latest study shows that we should be more concerned with the regularity of sleeping the child does, instead of the quantity of sleep they get each night.

Disruption of Sleep Pattern and Caloric Increase

There have been many studies done that show people who have poor sleep patterns are twice as likely to become obese. The disruption in our sleep patterns can alter our appetites, and can change our hormones, and the way that our bodies break down glucose that is in our foods.

When a teen goes to bed at nine one night, and twelve the next night, and then the next night, they are following a disrupted sleep cycle. For each hour that their sleep cycle is changed, they will increase their caloric intake by as much as two hundred and ten calories.

The majority of the extra calories that a teen eats because of a disruptive sleep pattern will be high fat or sugar laden calories that are known to increase the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

The Causes

The demands of social lives, school, family involvement, and work cause teens to have irregular sleep patterns. When the sleep patterns are not regulated the person often feels lethargic and like they have no energy. They often increase their food, especially carbohydrate intake in order to feel more energized. This cycle of sleep changes and poor diet can lead to major health issues, and also causes the teens to be less productive in their school, their work, and their social lives. It is believed that sleep pattern irregularity can also play a large role in depression, and suicidal thoughts and actions among teens.

Changes that can be made

Doctors are urging schools to start one hour later than they do now in order to allow teens the opportunity to get a full eight hours of sleep each night. A better rested teen will be a better student, and this could lead to improved testing scores across the board.

Parents can make sure that their children are leading a balanced life that includes enough allotted time for sleep each night. Parents can help their children to manage their social lives, school lives, and careers so that they do not short-change themselves on the much-needed daily rest.