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A sleep schedule … for teens?

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Looking to help your teen be more alert in the morning – and maybe even less moody throughout the day? Try a sleep schedule, researchers say.

“There are a lot of changes a teen goes through,” said Stephanie Crowley, director of the Pediatric Chronobiology and Sleep Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “One specifically is a change to sleep biology that happens during puberty. The brain systems that control sleep change in such a way that it’s easier for an adolescent to stay awake later into the evening. One of these systems – the 24-hour circadian clock – shifts later in time.”

As part of an effort to neutralize the competing forces of the circadian clock and the need to go to bed earlier on school nights, the researchers studied the sleep patterns of 46 teens in two groups. For one group, the researchers used bright light therapy on two weekend mornings to cue the teens’ internal clock to wake them up earlier – and ease their ability to fall asleep at a more suitable time later in the day.

 

Afterward, the researchers offered time management and prioritization strategies, as well as tools to help those teens feel less sleep deprived as their day wore on.

The researchers found that these interventions boosted sleep duration by about an hour while shifting bedtime 90 minutes earlier. Additionally, the teens showed improved morning alertness and were less tired, worried and irritable.

The study was published online in the journal SLEEP.

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