Problem is… school doesn’t differentiate between early birds or night owls; it starts the same time for all of us!
What’s a night owl? A “night owl” might also refer to themselves as a “night person,” which means we are more alert and accomplish things better at night than during the earlier hours of the day (as opposed to an “early bird” or “morning person”).
It’s not that we need less sleep; we need the same amount of sleep but just have a really, really hard time going to sleep earlier, because that’s when we get our burst of energy. Problem is… school doesn’t differentiate between early birds or night owls; it starts the same time for all of us! So getting up is a huge hurdle for us; we can be groggy and tired (or even nauseous) until we’ve been up for a while. We might not function at hundred percent until the evening!
Sleep deprivation in teens should be taken seriously. If us night owls don’t find ways to get enough sleep, it can create lots of issues, like difficulty concentrating, ADHD-like behaviors, poor grades, car accidents, anxiety, depression, acne, obesity, loss of hair, and lots more! Not cool…
It’s common for teens to be night owls. Teens naturally do not become sleepy as early as they did when they were younger. The hormone that induces sleep, called melatonin, is actually delayed in teenagers, in some kids not kicking in until after 11 p.m.! Additionally, adolescents can lose sensitivity to morning light, making it easier to sleep late in the morning (as opposed to little kids, who are more sensitive to morning light and may wake up at the crack of dawn!), which can knock their sleeping habits out of whack.
Whatever the reason, we’re just most productive at night. The ideas just flow, so if we’re working on something we’ll just keep going and going. It’s definitely not planned — if anything, just the opposite! We’ll plan to go to sleep early but then get a burst of energy. We’ll work on a project for school, bake muffins, play around with makeup, talk on the phone… whatever. But we have way too much energy to go to sleep!
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 850)
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