No announcement yet.

Sleeping patterns during adolescence

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Sleeping patterns during adolescence

    For about 4 years now (currently 18) I've had issues with my sleep, which I'm pinning down to timing. Essentially, I don't wake up refreshed anymore; I'm always groggy and need 'just a little bit more' sleep. As a kid, I was always fast asleep within minutes at 7:30pm and woke at 7:30am every morning feeling bright-eyed, clear-headed and energised.

    I still have to get up at 7:30am every morning for college, which can prove to be a huge obstacle considering the fact that I don't feel truly sleepy until around 9-10. This may still sound relatively early, but I need at least 9-10 hours of sleep. I'm completely primal; I'm eating right, I'm exercising enough (which definitely increases sleep quality, but that's not the real issue here), and I cope excellently with stress (not counting the fact that I always feel sleep-deprived).

    I use a light box every morning to try and shift my circadian rhythm forward to a suitable schedule, but that has proven to be useless to me. I still take at least 30-60 minutes to fall asleep if I try and go to bed at an early hour (eg. 9:30pm); I should also mention that I read at least an hour before bed, with absolutely no electronics being on in my room (TV, phone, computer or otherwise), so the environmental cues are all there.

    Despite my efforts, it just feels...unnatural going to bed at that time. It doesn't matter how exhausted I am; my body only seems to really feel ready for sleep at a later time than desirable. I can actually feel the sensation of drowsiness which could be attributable to the secretion of melatonin. Sticking to consistent wake and sleep times has not helped at all, and I have indeed been putting forth my best efforts towards feeling rested for a long time now; I've recently ditched my phone alarm simply because I'm sick and tired of constantly feeling sick and tired from the loss of sleep.

    I'm sure that we've all heard about (and probably experienced) this, but my question is...why? Obviously, being a teenager is often associated with more freedom (ie. little to no parental supervision over bedtimes), so time that should be spent in bed could be spent going out with friends or playing around with technology, which can easily exacerbate the issue. I've heard that there is a biological role in all this, which I think is to do with the circadian rhythm 'slowing down' during adolescence. But if light, the most powerful zeitgeber, isn't going to help...what else can I do?

    Do adolescents in traditional societies experience this?

  • #2
    Not being a doctor and being a LOOONG way away from being a teenager (thank goodness) I seem to remember hearing that adolesence/puberty/being a large walking soup of hormones takes a LOT out of one and sleep patterns become all mucked up (think of it as the fastest period of growth and development since you were a young baby). I think basically your rhythms get skewed so you are awake late and then need to sleep longer in the morning. In the UK there has been talk of actually changing the education system (developed when we needed factory workers used to the discipline of clocks and bells and set working hours) so teenagers start and finish the school day an hour later to accomodate this shift. But it hasn't happened so far because the grownups who teach them don't want their precious evenigs disrupted (and obviously they may have families who would not benefit from later parental working hours)

    Obviously the ideal would be to sleep longer in the morning but, short of ditching the college morning it ain't likely to happen most days. If you can, maybe try to rest in the afternoon after college? Or have a stonking great lie in on the w/end. Even if you don't actually sleep you will be resting your mind/body.

    Stressing about the insomnia (or perceived insomnia) won't help you to relax which in its turn will prevent sleep. Use the time you spend "trying" to sleep to meditate or just think about all sorts of "silly stuff". Letting the mind wander is a luxury few allow themselves and here you are with the advantage of having this time between waking and sleeping to free-associate in a dark comfortable room with little probability fo being disturbed.

    Don't let it spoil the time you have - but maybe manage it more. Spend time with friends etc but perhaps take time to recharge too.

    OK lecture over - not a lot of help but is my 2p worth :-P
    I don't ask that you like me - all I ask is that you respect my life experiences and i will do the same.


    • #3
      it's normal for teens (between ages 12 and 25 really) to have a shifted clock. apparently the biological clock shifts to stay up late and get up late. it will rebalance to an earlier process after 25.

      i somehow managed to skip this phase, because i always go to bed around 9:30 and get up around 7. it's just natural for me.

      my recommendation is -- if possible -- shift your schedule so that you don't have to get up early. also, do calming activities between 8:30 and 9:30 such as listening to relaxing music, meditating, drawing, or some other calming activity. that way, you are ready for rest around that time, and in fact, already resting. also, turning down the lights (we go to candle light from sundown onwards), as this helps the body quiet down for bed.


      • #4
        When I was in college I had similar class schedules. Not having an 8 am class was NOT an option.

        I ended up knowing the location of all of the comfortable...and not so comfortable couches on campus and napping when I had a chance. Fortunately cell phones and stuff will make it easier now to set an alarm as I, unfortunately, slept through some late afternoon classes.

        I would not try to force the early sleep. If you are not tired, you are not tired and you can not force it. It often leads to poorer quality sleep which is less restful.
        MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

        "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7