Radio Shows | The Ciradian Rhythm of Teenagers | mp3 … wma … wav
If you have teenagers at home, you probably nag at them to get to bed and scream at them to get up.
But would you believe maybe they can't help it? In a recent study, some 10,000 students were surveyed after their schools changed the start time from 7:30 to 8:30. Not only did attendance improve, teenage car accidents dropped 16.5% while schools without the change saw accidents increase by 7.8%.
Strangely enough sending your teenager to bed earlier won't help. That's because the circadian rhythm of a child's body changes at puberty.
Circadian rhythm is the internal body clock that regulates biological processes in a 24 hour cycle. This internal clock is controlled by two pin-head sized structures in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN.
The SCN ensures certain body functions work in harmony with our sleep wake cycle including body temperature, urine production, and hormone secretion like melatonin which is key to helping us sleep.
So you know how you feel when you get jet lagged - when your cirdadian rhythm is disrupted? Well - when we wake up teenagers too early that's what it's like for them. Because when children hit puberty they experience a shift in their natural sleep-wake cycles
This shift means that adolescents have trouble going to sleep early, will stay up late, and would get up late if we let them. Plus studies also show this shift makes them excessively sleepy in the morning.
Teachers in high schools that changed to later start times report fewer students falling asleep in class and that students are generally more alert.
Now after years of teenage sleep research, the CDC is finally encouraging school districts to let high schools get a bit later start.
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