Sleep Rules

Want to know why you need one or two more hours of sleep than your younger siblings?

We can appreciate the many pressures on you today— homework, band rehearsal, early morning football games, other sports, and religious, community and family activities—all of which take time, energy and commitment.

Too many students struggle with time management, and, inevitably, something’s got to give. In most cases, young people sacrifice sleep to fit everything else in. But sleep should not be where you compromise.

Tired and Weary

Studies from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Center on Sleep Disorders Research point to the fact that the average adolescent needs about nine hours of sleep per night. It also recommends getting that amount of sleep on a regular basis in order to perform your best in school, sports and other activities. But studies show that most teens only average about seven to seven-and-a-half hours of sleep per night.

Some studies show that sleep deprivation reduces the body’s ability to manage its main sources of energy, glucose and glycogen, thereby preventing an athlete from storing needed fuel for endurance.

Another hormone, cortisol (a stress hormone), often elevates in sleep-deprived athletes and can, over time, interfere with tissue repair and injury recovery.

Conventional parental wisdom allows older children to have a later bedtime. However, a Stanford University study found that teenagers require one to two more hours of sleep than their younger siblings. Without the proper sleep habits, you can become moody or depressed. And if you drive, you run the dangerous risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

How to Get More Z’s

So if you have trouble catching enough Z’s, try the following tips and see if you can get the extra sleep your body needs.

  • Avoid soda and caffeine before bedtime.
  • Establish a regular bedtime and stick to it.
  • Establish a bedtime routine (read a book, listen to music).
  • Make sure you finish your daily exercise at least two hours before bedtime.

Try one or all of the above suggestions to maximize your chances of a well-deserved good night’s sleep.

About the Author

Pamela Goldman is the senior vice president of corporate strategy and communications for 02 Max, a fitness club for teens, opening in the fall of 2007 in Manhattan Beach, Calif. For more information about 02 Max, visit www.02maxfitness.com.

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