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How to help your teen get more sleep

Most teens don't get enough sleep. And that can make them exhausted and moody. A new study reveals ways to help teens get the shut eye they need during the school year. Viv Williams has details in

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Many teens don't get enough sleep during the school year because their internal clocks change in puberty
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ROCHESTER — Many teenagers are sleep-deprived during the school year. The National Sleep Foundation website notes that teens need eight to 10 hours of shuteye per night, but most get less than that.

Researchers at Rush University studied ways to help teens get the sleep they need.

“There are a lot of changes a teen goes through," says Dr. Stephanie J. Crowley, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the director of the Pediatric Chronobiology and Sleep Research Program at Rush. "One specifically is a change to sleep biology that happens during puberty. The brain systems that control sleep change in such a way that it’s easier for an adolescent to stay awake later into the evening. One of these systems — the 24-hour circadian clock — shifts later in time.”

Even though school schedules may require early start times, a teen's internal clock may make going to bed earlier hard to do. So the researchers developed a two-week intervention to see if they could improve sleep routines. The teens in the study used bright light therapy on weekend mornings, which helped reset their internal clocks to wake up a little earlier. The teens also learned time management tools to help them be ready for bed earlier.

The researchers say the methods helped teens get an average of one hour more of sleep per night. They also found that the teens who gained sleep time were less stressed and less tired.


Next, the researchers want to find out if those results will last over time.

The study is published in the journal SLEEP.


Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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