Clock Your Sleep: Teens and Sleep

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

nap sleep (Brittney Bush/flickr)

For teens, being tired is the norm. "It's a pretty normal thing to be tired throughout the day," reports Temitayo Fagbenle, WNYC Radio Rookie, who's been interviewing teens about sleep and what's keeping them up late. And it makes sense. Dr. Shelby Harris, director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at Montefiore Medical Center, explains how teenagers' biology makes them want to stay up later, and yet they have to be at school early. She says that teens are not going to be at their best that early in the morning given their body clocks. 

Also, it's the third week of WNYC's Clock Your Sleep project. Almost 4,000 people are participating and you can still join to track your sleep with us. Go here to register


Temitayo Fagbenle and Shelby Harris

Comments [13]

fuva from harlemworld

Not enough said about the dopamine effects of the gadgets.

Apr. 16 2014 11:21 AM
Annmarie from Bellmore

A structured life style and bed times begin at birth. Sometimes bedtime become a power struggle with teens, kind of like potty training. Look back to that experience for strategies if you're a parent struggling with this.
Also, I thought teen brain growth was a factor in the need for teens to need more sleep. I didn't hear that addressed in this conversation.

Apr. 16 2014 11:20 AM
Joanne Scully from Randolph, NJ

Randolph, NewJersey; township owns bus system; there are 3 rounds of routes: elementary, middle school, high.

My son was in middle school I realized that the fact the youngest children were on the 3rd round of routes, while the highschoolers were being picked up as early as 6:30AM, was the opposite of what is practical. Why can't the school day begin early for the little ones who are rising at 5 or 6 anyway, and later for the older ones, whose bodies retire late and need the morning sleep?

So I looked into the subject of sleep and of school systems that have adapted to the rhythms of its students. I began to talk about this among other parents and learned that it would NOT fly here because the highschoolers need the extra time inthe afternoon for their extracurricular activities. (Here, more so sports /clubs than jobs, but there are both.)

Is this a valid excuse for inaction, in your opinion?

My son is still in bed on this day off.

Apr. 16 2014 11:20 AM
Jennifer from UES

I'm a HS teacher at a school that starts at 8:45 am to accommodate teen sleep cycles but many students are late for first period or show up during 2nd and are failing core classes as a result.

Apr. 16 2014 11:20 AM

My two cents...

In order to re-use the bus fleet to move students to high school, middle school AND grammar school, high school start and end times have been moved forward by about an hour since my generation. First period bell in my high school was 8:15. My son's 7:35. Here in NJ, some students have to be ON THE BUS at 6:30am. Ridiculous. This is bad for the education of the teen-age brain but great for having someone home to take care of the younger ones so that the parents don't get a ticket.

The cure for this is to end busing and provide decent after care so that the teenagers can have a life. Anybody willing to pay more taxes to finance that? ...or have a caregiver at home when they get there.

Apr. 16 2014 11:19 AM
Grace from Brooklyn

As a teen I had trouble getting enough sleep at night, because I would stay awake just because I enjoyed that part of the day too much to give up. I think for teens late night can be the only time you have to yourself and it's hard to give that up. I didn't have internet in my room in high school but I wouldn't neccesarily consider time spent on the smartphone as social time, I think it is another way for a teen to be on their own, making their own choices and being the master of if their own universe. What does a teen want more than that?

Apr. 16 2014 11:18 AM
Susan from Morningside Hts.

TOO MUCH HOMEWORK! Many teens have 3-4 hours of homework each night. Research has shown more than two hours of homework in HS is counterproductive (Harris Cooper). They'd do much better with two hours or less of homework, and two more hours of sleep!

Apr. 16 2014 11:18 AM
Lutonya from Westchester

This is so true. My 19 year old was up everynight until 12 or 1:00 when she was in highschool. Thanksfully by her senior year, her classes didn't start until 10:00 or so, so she was able to sleep a little later. But she was always tired. Many nights we made her go to bed, even if all of her homework wasn't complete.

Apr. 16 2014 11:17 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Sounds like instead of "teaching to the test," schools could get better results by opening later to let students get enough sleep to function & learn. Wonder what it would take to make that happen.

Apr. 16 2014 11:15 AM

My 15 year old has been sleeping about 10 hours a night since spring break started this week...Good Luck getting him up on Monday morning next week..My car will be leaving at 715am ...ready or not. LOL

Apr. 16 2014 11:14 AM
Mom from Westchester

Typo below: it's "colleges," not college.

Apr. 16 2014 11:09 AM

Typo below: it's "colleges," not college.

Apr. 16 2014 11:08 AM
Mom from Westchester

I have watched our high schools punish conscientious, high-achieving students by overloading them with an inordinate amount of work (coupled with a host of other pressures to achieve in order to have college "options"). In my kids' high school, the top students are almost universally up until all hours of the night in order to meet teachers' expectations and maintain high grades. They have a choice: either suck it up and stay up until all hours of the night or accept grades that while good, are not great, and therefore, not good enough for the top college.

Apr. 16 2014 11:06 AM

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