sleeping teenagers lie
Does your teenager
go to bed at unheard of hours and get up in the afternoon? Don't
get angry. His biological clock is adapting. You should even encourage
him to sleep more. "Everything points to a change in the wake-sleep
cycle at puberty, so teenagers should spend more time sleeping than
they actually do," explains Luc Laberge, who devoted his doctoral
thesis to this question.
His research, carried out at the Université de Montréal
Sleep Study Centre at Sacré-Cur Hospital under the
supervision of Dr. Jacques Montplaisir, shows that adolescents sleep
less and less as they grow older, and that their need for sleep
is not being met.
At 13 years
of age, a teenager sleeps an average 9.5 hours a night during the
week, which represents one hour less than a ten year-old sleeps.
However, the teen will sleep 10 hours a night on weekends. This
downward trend continues until the end of adolescence, when the
number of hours of sleep during the week will stabilize at around
7 per night in youngsters aged 17 to 19 years.
"In the laboratory, teenagers studied for several consecutive
summers nevertheless maintained an average of 9.2 hours of sleep
per night," Luc Laberge reports. "Despite the constant
sleep duration, they were increasingly tired during the day from
one summer to the next. As a result, there appears to be an increase
in diurnal somnolence concomitant with the development of puberty."
This phenomenon can also be seen from data he gathered himself:
at 13 years, girls sleep close to a half-hour more than boys on
weeknights, which tends to confirm the correlation between sleep
needs and puberty.
Institutes of Health in the United States consider adolescents to
be a risk group for excessive diurnal somnolence, and half of highway
accidents attributed to this problem are caused by young people
under 25 years of age," he stresses. "We also know that
adults who present sleep problems have often begun to be affected
to get up earlier by moving the start of classes ahead (as Quebec
Education Minister Francois Legault recently proposed) would thus
increase the gap between weekday and weekend wakeup times, which
would further aggravate the sleep deficit from which many teenagers
already suffer, in addition to conflicting with apparent biological
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Funding : Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Director : Jacques-Yves
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