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Sleep Awareness Week: Moody teens just want to feel better

Angry, anxious, moody, depressed... teens have enough challenges with hormones without having to deal with sleep problems, too.

There’s plenty of blame to go around for the mood swings of teenagers, but let’s be fair: a lot of it isn’t their fault, it’s due to sleep deprivation.

angry teen gif

Teens need sleep for more than just brain development

Adolescents take a lot of heat for their late nights and bad habits. But we could do much more as a society to make it fair for them.

Teens are naturally inclined to later sleep schedules thanks to shifts in the circadian system which accompany the final stages of their brain development.

Add to this the surging hormones, the demands of homework and performance on the athletic field, and the generally unrealistic expectations we can place on them—such as going to class at 730am—and it’s no wonder our young adults aren’t sleeping well, reliant on caffeinated energy drinks and nootropic drugs to just get through the day.

Who wouldn’t be cranky? Families as a whole would be far better off supporting their teens with opportunities for healthy sleep just to feel better.

For Sleep Awareness Week, in keeping with the #SleepBetterFeelBetter theme, SHC offers these recent links that testify to the very real challenges teens face when it comes to sleep and mood regulation, and how feeling better may be as simple as getting sleep.


APR 21: Psychiatric Times
Delayed Sleep Wake Phase Disorder in Adolescents: Chronotherapy and Best Practices
Curator’s comment:
 Before we decide that teens are lazy or have bad sleep habits, we need to be reminded of the fact that their circadian rhythms are significantly different from ours. Match this with early school start times and you’ve got the perfect recipe for mood disorders.

APR 21: Psychiatry Advisor
Suicide Attempts, Sleep Disturbance Associated With Internet Addiction
Curator’s comment:
 Internet addiction is a problem for all ages, but probably more associated with young people.

APR 18: SLEEP
The SENSE Study: Treatment mechanisms of a cognitive behavioral and mindfulness-based group sleep improvement intervention for at-risk adolescents
Curator’s comment:
 Sleep can fix so much of what ails our teens.

APR 14: Los Angeles Times
Pushing school start times is good for students’ mental health and safety, experts say
Curator’s comment:
 It always comes back to school bell times for our older kids. Forget about higher test scores and better sports performance, we need our kids to sleep to stay alive.

MAR 31: Cronkite News
In Focus, episode 3: Sleep deprivation and the student brain
Curator’s comment:
 An interesting podcast, and listening to this message through their voices is helpful.

FEB 19: The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle
Eyes Wide Shut: Students Suffering from Sleep Disorders
Curator’s comment:
 Insomnia, circadian rhythm disorders, and daytime sleepiness aren’t the only sleep-related problems that can plague teens.

FEB 13: NPR
Depression Strikes Today’s Teen Girls Especially Hard
Curator’s comment:
 Keep in mind… depression can lead to sleep problems, and sleep problems can lead to depression. It might not be easy to identify the root cause, but it’s always a good idea to review sleep for clues.

JAN 18: NUTRAingredients
‘Highly frequent’ energy drink consumption associated with mental health problems for teens
Curator’s comment:
 Maybe we’ve always known this, but it’s high time we listened to these reminders.

DEC 16, 2016: Philly.com
Want to prevent teen mental health problems? Let them sleep
Curator’s comment:
 From  Katherine K. Dahlsgaard, Ph.D., Clinical Director of The Anxiety Behaviors Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The doctor clearly knows what she’s talking about.

DEC 7, 2016: Metro News
Alberta post-secondary still crippled by mental health issues: survey finds
Curator’s comment:
 If 10 percent of Alberta’s university students are considering suicide, this report shows it’s because many feel tired, stressed and helpless.

DEC 4, 2016: Times-Union
Mental health and teens of today
Curator’s comment:
 If you ask teens what they think about poor sleep and mood, they’ll be pretty frank about the problem and where it comes from, like this columnist.

NOV 14, 2016: Iowa State Daily
Psychology professor discusses importance of sleep, effects on social behavior
Curator’s comment:
 The professor correctly points out that the social demands of family and work on students can hardly be made their fault.

NOV 6, 2016: FOX News
Kids with sleep apnea more likely to have depression
Curator’s comment:
 We often forget that people of all ages can suffer from sleep apnea, not just older people. Sleep apnea is yet another cause of sleep deprivation, which leads to negative moods.

NOV 3, 2016: UPI
Timing of sleep, not lack of it, makes teens moody: Study
Curator’s comment:
 It’s the daytime drowsiness we need to be worried about, according to this research.

OCT 26, 2016: Psychology Today
Does Lack of Sleep Make People More Violent?
Curator’s comment:
 This article focuses on people of all ages, but I’m including it here because of the ongoing mainstream concern over bullying both live and online. Sleep probably has a hand in it, don’t you think?

OCT 5, 2016: Times of India
Youths crowding sleep labs for treatment as late nights, net addiction catches on
Curator’s comment:
 The cultural challenges today’s tens face aren’t limited to the Western world.

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It makes zero sense to shortchange yourself sleep!

Sleep is as necessary to good health as water, sunshine, movement, and nutrition. Without sleep, humans become chronically ill and can even die. Don’t skimp on sleep. If you’re losing sleep, for whatever reason, think about why and what you can do to make a healthy change.

Good sleep can help prevent illness, relieve symptoms of illnesses, ease pain, improve mood, and keep you safe from accidents caused by sleep deprivation.

This week, we’ll be sharing some different ideas about how sleep can impact your mental health as part of our 4 Ms theme, focusing on mind, mood, memory, and mental health.

ACTION ITEM: Look for shares, moments, and links in Twitter by following @sleepyheadctrl and/or looking for the hashtag, #SleepBetterFeelBetter

ATTENTION CONTENT CREATORS

SHC is not accepting pitches, manuscripts, or queries at this time for guest posts, infographics, or other unsolicited content. All guest posts are by invitation only.  Writers' guidelines for the Vitamin Zzz literary series can be found here.

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