Studies indicate that people in industrialized nations are becoming increasingly sleep deprived, and the problem is most acute among teens. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics calls insufficient sleep in teens a public health epidemic. The sharp rise in chronic sleep loss poses a serious threat to the academic success, health, and safety of our nation’s youth.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need approximately 8-10 hours of sleep every night in order to function and feel their best. The reality is that a substantial proportion of [American] teens are not even close to obtaining the recommended amount of sleep.
It’s important to remember that teens are at an important stage of their growth and development. Unfortunately, there are many social and cultural forces that limit their sleep:
“With academic demands and extracurricular activities, the kids are going nonstop until they fall asleep exhausted at night. There is not an emphasis on the importance of sleep, as there is with nutrition and exercise. They say they are tired, but they don’t realize they are actually sleep-deprived. And if you ask kids to remove an activity, they would rather not. They would rather give up sleep than an activity.”
– Nanci Yuan, MD, director of the Stanford Children’s Health Sleep Center
In order to address the chronic sleep loss in teens, it’s critical to acknowledge the potential consequences of this epidemic:
Junk light exposure when traveling can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Long-term exposure to light at night which accompanies shift work is listed as a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization. Light at night has shown to be highly associated with significantly the risk of hormone specific such as cancers of the breast and prostate.
The flickering wavelength of light associated with LEDs and compact fluorescent lights emit blue light that inhibits melatonin production but also create a unique glare that impacts your retina causing eye strain, headaches, and physical and mental fatigue.
Red light and darkness move leptin and ghrelin into patterns that are (context dependent) associated with less hunger, while blue light does the opposite and can move both into patterns associated with more hunger.
Increase in cortisol, the stress hormone, due to circadian disruption. Memory recall is impaired with consistent sleep deprivation and may leave you distracted and not performing your absolute best.
The Importance of Melanopsin Cells
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