caffeinated drinks to help them get through their day, they can actually add to their stomach problems while trying to feel better. Stress and drinking too much alcohol also are known to cause stomachaches, and both can result in severe sleep deprivation.


When adolescents sleep, they not only refresh and repair their bodies, they also grow. During the third and fourth stages of sleep, which I’ll talk about more in the next chapter, a growth hormone called somatotropin is secreted. In addition to having several other functions, this growth hormone stimulates the secretion of another hormone called IGF-I, which in turn stimulates both bone and muscle growth.

A number of studies have tried to determine whether growing children who are sleep deprived grow less well than those who get adequate rest. One, published in 2000, showed that when normal growth hormone secretion is blunted at night it is compensated for the next day, thereby arguing against the belief that sleep problems can inhibit growth in children. But another study in 2004 revealed that partial sleep deprivation nearly abolished pulses of growth hormone and suppressed concentrations of growth hormone, arguing that sleep deprivation does inhibit growth. Even if greatly reduced secretion of growth hormones is made up for the next day, however, we don’t know if we get the same result from it—if you’re up and around and doing all the things you need to do during the day, is growth hormone secretion able to produce the same results as it does when you’re at rest? Clearly more research is needed, but it might be that sleep deprivation can prevent teens from growing as fully as they should.

Acne and Other Skin Problems

Ah, pimples: the bane of teenagers’ existence. Nearly every adolescent experiences a breakout at some point, with girls suffering the most eruptions between 14 and 17 and boys between 16 and 19. Dirt, microbes, and several other culprits can be the cause of the apperance of pimples, but severe acne breakouts have also been reported after prolonged sleep deprivation.

Ted Grossbart, a psychologist on the faculty of Harvard Medical

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