Within three days of starting high school this year, my ninth-grader could not get into bed before 11 p.m. or wake up by 6 a.m. He complained he couldn’t fall asleep but felt foggy during the school day and had to reread lessons a few times at night to finish his homework. And forget morning activities on the weekends — he was in bed.
We’re not the only family struggling to get restful shut-eye.
“What parents are sharing with us is that the ‘normal life’ of a typical American high schooler is interfering with sleep,” says Sarah Clark, co-director of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan.
In the poll of 2,000 parents from various ethnic groups and backgrounds that Clark and her team published this month, 1 in 6 parents say their teen experiences frequent sleep problems — “having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep 3 or more nights per week.”
Unfortunately, even their bodies work against them, says Mary Carskadon, a longtime sleep researcher and professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University. As children grow into the middle and teen years, they are naturally inclined to go to bed later and sleep later in the morning. But an early school start time doesn’t allow it.
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