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Monday, May 3, 2010

Tired

I only got five hours of sleep last night. Once upon a time I thought that was enough, but now I recognize that it's just not enough, and I'm tired.

Which probably puts me right on the same page with most teenagers, especially at this time of year. Last week teens in our area had STAR testing, this week the high school kids are taking AP tests, some Juniors took the SAT test last Saturday, and the list goes on. The only ones who might be getting enough sleep are the seniors, since many of them have made college decisions already, but they're probably too busy celebrating and having fun to get enough sleep!

Conventional wisdom has long held that teens need less sleep than younger kids, but research has shown over and over that this isn't the case - teens should be getting at least nine hours of sleep per night, according to one study. Getting too little sleep can lead to an increase in depression and thoughts of suicide.

So what's to be done? Many argue that teens should get to be earlier, but with homework and after school activities that isn't always possible. Some argue that school should start later in the morning, maybe at 8:40 instead of 7:15.

This may not seem like a big deal, but lack of sleep may have very serious long term health concerns. Some researchers believe that lack of sleep may be a cause of Alzheimer's disease.

There's even an incredibly rare disease called Fatal Familial Insomnia where a person simply cannot sleep and eventually dies. There's a fascinating book about one Italian family who have been dealing with the disease for the past two hundred years!

What do you think? If you're a teen, how much sleep do you get on average? Do you think it's enough?

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