Yo, teens! Let me take a sec of your day to rap at you about your crappy sleep habits. Smart phones and Giga Pets away, guys. I'm gonna need your full attention up front. Listen to me, I sound like some lame teacher, which, ha, I definitely am not. Would a lame teacher sit backwards in a chair and know who 2 Chainz is? I didn't think so.
But let's get to the point, dudes. You're not getting enough sleep. It's making your brains slow and that's the opposite of COOL, y'know? Maybe you think that being tired or lethargic is gonna make that cute boy or girl in your study hall like you, but you're wrong. I've talked with your peers and they dig well-rested enthusiasm, not dark circles under your eyes.
Look, homies, the system is working against you. I'm a super cool guy so I can be straight up and tell you that. Can you believe that when I was in high school, I had a long hair and once skipped school to camp out before a Letters to Cleo concert? Haha, don't tell your parents about that. It'll be our little secret. But you can see that I'm on your side. I know the reason you can't get out of bed in the morning isn't all your fault. It's the Man's fault, too, and you know what? Damn the man, save the Empire. (Ha, you guys like Empire Records?)
There was a recent article written for NewScientist by this guy named Russell Foster — don't roll your eyes — and it's all about how your parents and the school and, let's be real, some things that you do to yourself keep you up too late at night and make you wake up too early in the morning. It's a real drag.
Let's take a look:
The biology of human sleep timing, like that of other mammals, changes as we age. This has been shown in many studies. As puberty begins, bedtimes and waking times get later. This trend continues until 19.5 years in women and 21 in men. Then it reverses. At 55 we wake at about the time we woke prior to puberty. On average this is two hours earlier than adolescents. This means that for a teenager, a 7 a.m. alarm call is the equivalent of a 5 a.m. start for people in their 50s.
5am! Be sure and tell your mom that the next time she gets on your case for being lazy. Just kidding — gotta respect your parents, guys. And thanks to your schools early start time, you just can't get enough shut eye. Couple that with the fact that you drink crazy amounts of energy drinks, stay up late doing homework and then stay up even later watching the new Mackelmore video on your iPads and what do you have? A recipe for some MEGA sleepy teens.
Could this apply to you?
If you are dependent upon an alarm clock or parent to get you out of bed; if you take a long time to wake up; if you feel sleepy and irritable during the day; if your behavior is overly impulsive, it means you are probably not getting enough sleep. Take control. Ensure the bedroom is a place that promotes sleep—dark and not too warm—don't text, use a computer, or watch TV for at least half an hour before trying to sleep, and avoid bright lights. Try not to nap during the day and seek out natural light in the morning to adjust the body clock and sleep patterns to an earlier time. Avoid caffeinated drinks after lunch.
'Stop texting a whole half hour before I go to sleep? But what about the newest locker room gossip from sports class?!' I know that's what you're thinking, but trust me. The news about Jimmy J. and Karen T. breaking up will still be there in the morning so why don't you just chillax and get some rest?
Need more convincing? Cool, because I've got it. Not only is your lack of sleep making you tired, but it's making you academically slow and it's messing with your metabolism:
Evidence that sleep is important is overwhelming. Elegant research has demonstrated its critical role in memory consolidation and our ability to generate innovative solutions to complex problems. Sleep disruption increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol. Impulsive behaviours, lack of empathy, sense of humour and mood are similarly affected.
All in all, a tired adolescent is a grumpy, moody, insensitive, angry and stressed one. Perhaps less obviously, sleep loss is associated with metabolic changes. Research has shown that blood-glucose regulation was greatly impaired in young men who slept only 4 hours on six consecutive nights, with their insulin levels comparable to the early stages of diabetes.
So if you've got the munchies all the time — This guy knows what I'm talking about! Just joshin, bro! I'm sure you're clean — it might be because you're not sleeping enough. And if you're thinking 'So what? I love snack food!', think about trying to fit into your tuxedo come prom. No girl wants to slow dance with a guy who's bustin out of his cummerbund, you know what I mean?
I gotta wrap this up because I've got six more classes to give this lecture in before I go cry in my car that may or may not be the place that I'm also living. Anyway, love, peace and hair grease! Now go get some sleep!
Why teenagers really do need an extra hour in bed [NewScientist]
Image via Ermolaev Alexander/Shutterstock.