cents and younger kids. As far as teenagers go, sometimes some of the symptoms—such as being moody or falling behind in school or being sleepy—are attributed to rebelliousness or laziness or typical adolescent behavior, not an underlying physical cause. And some sleep-deprived people just function better than others, doing fairly well though definitely not their best. Younger adolescents don’t always have the judgment to understand that being sleep deprived is interfering with their lives. Others who are severely sleep deprived may have additional problems that mask or share symptoms with sleep deprivation, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD) or depression, and that makes it extremely difficult to diagnose them. (For more on the links between sleep deprivation and ADD and depression, see Chapter 11.)
So how can you tell if your teen is truly sleep deprived—and to what degree?
There are several ways to tell. If you think your teen has a sleep problem, you can send her to her doctor. If your teen checks out well there, and no other medical condition is found, an evaluation by a sleep specialist like me will provide valuable information. (To find a certified sleep specialist in your area, search under “Patient Resources” on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Web site, www.aasmnet.org. Your local medical society should also be a good resource for sleep doctors in your community.)
You can also gather and assess important information yourself, along with your teen. This chapter includes a number of sleepiness tests and scales as well as a description of typical symptoms to look for to help you make a determination. You’ll also find several Web site addresses where your teen can test herself on sleep-dependent performance. And I’ll give you some ideas for informal tests you can create yourself.
Some of the more obvious signs of sleep deprivation may already be pretty clear to you—you see them in yourself as well as
A recent BBC Radio show detailed a survey that showed that adolescents who slept fewer than six and a half hours on school nights or had more than a two-hour difference between their school-night and weekend bedtimes complained more about depression than those who got more sleep.