Teens tend to get a lot less sleep once school starts. Without enough sleep, their performance in class and after-school activities can suffer, and their risk for sports-related and other injuries increases. Behind the wheel, they can be deadly.
“Young drivers, especially young men, are at high risk for serious car crashes related to drowsy driving,” Dr. Carl E. Hunt, director of NIH’s National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, says. “Unfortunately, many teens regularly sacrifice hours of sleep to accommodate life’s increasing demands—school work, jobs, extracurricular activities and socializing—at a time when maturational changes delay the natural timing of feeling tired in the evening.”
Both the body and mind need sleep. People who don’t get enough sleep have more memory lapses and are more likely to develop behavioral problems and moodiness. Recent research even links disrupted sleep patterns with excessive weight gain and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Along with pencils, binders and backpacks, make adequate nighttime sleep a “back to school” priority. Experts recommend at least nine hours of sleep per night for adolescents as well as younger, school-aged children for their health, safety and best performance in school and other activities.