How to Avoid Becoming a Teen Zombie

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How much sleep does a teenager need?

According to the National Sleep Foundation it’s a whopping 9 and a quarter hours a night. How many teens actually sleep that much? Only 8 in every 100.

Are you one of the 92 missing an hour or more each night? This lack of sleep can leave you groggy and impact your academic performance, but that’s not all.

Teen sleep deprivation “has been linked to lower levels of Human Growth Hormone, which is integral to a teenager’s physical growth, brain development, and maturation of their immune system, as well as higher rates of anxiety disorders and depression,” Vicki Abeles, director of the documentary Race to Nowhere and Abigail A. Baird, associate professor of psychology at Vassar College wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal article. “A 2010 study in the journal Sleep found that teenagers who go to bed after midnight are 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression and 20 percent more likely to consider harming themselves than those who go to bed before 10:00 p.m.”

In their editorial, Abeles and Baird make several recommendations, including later school starting time to match teenagers natural rhythms, in-school study halls, and less homework at night. Also, they say, we need to make a cultural shift so teens know sleep is important — in fact, essential! — just like good nutrition and daily exercise. Read more about the benefits of relaxing and sleeping here (and find out what it does to your creativity!).

Do you get the sleep you need? If you were in charge, what changes in school schedules would you make to make sure you and your friends got enough rest each night?

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