Emsellem, Dr. Helene A., M.D., Whiteley, Carol. "5 Trying to Sleep in a No-Sleep Teen Culture." Snooze... or Lose!: 10 "No-War" Ways to Improve Your Teen's Sleep Habits. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2006.
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Snooze…Or Lose!: 10 “No-War” Ways to Improve Your Teen’s Sleep Habits
about themselves. But if your teen is a serious athlete, it’s a good idea to be aware of how much time is devoted to practices and meets and make sure she isn’t over-extended and dangerously sleep deprived.
Sleep researcher Mary Carskadonnotes that extended travel by sportsteams can be particularly hard onteams that play on the oppositecoast. West Coast athletes playing inthe east might not be able to fallasleep until later on the night beforea game and not get enough sleep toplay well. East Coast teams that playin the west will have an advantageover their opponents if they playearly in the day because they’ll havebeen awake longer and have moreenergy; however, when they returnhome, especially if they’ve beengone a week or more, they mayhave a significant phase delay thatwill keep them from falling asleepuntil late. While adults who travelfrom coast to coast can experienceproblems adjusting to the differenttime zones, teens are at a greaterdisadvantage because of their different inner clocks.
The Need for Privacy andPersonal Time
With their lives crammed full with classes, homework, after-school activities, jobs, social events, and family time, today’s teens are busy from the moment they get out of bed until the moment they climb back in. That leaves them with no time to relax, reflect, or have a good heart to heart with a friend—all vital during the emotionally charged, change-filled teen years. So teens who are especially busy but have a strong need for time to themselves often see the hours after their family is asleep as the only time they can call their own. That time may be used for just about anything. Some teens use it to call or IM their friends. Others like to read, write in journals, or listen to music. Still others use the time to work on a hobby. After a hectic day, quiet time, when no one’s asking anything of them and they can actually relax, can be very appealing to adolescents—and worth the exhaustion that results the next day.
Another reason teens choose to stay up late at night is because they can. It’s not only quiet after midnight, but it’s a time over which they can have some control. After a day that’s regimented by school administrators, teachers, coaches, and parents, the night hours are a time when kids can be in charge. For independent-minded teens, who are working to break away and find their own identity, time that they can regulate can seem like a must-have.