Lost Sleep Can Never Be Made Up

Staying in bed on the weekends won’t make up for a weeks’ worth of sleep deprivation. A new study finds that going long periods without sleep can lead to a sort of “sleep debt” that cannot simply be undone with extra sleep later.

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Such chronic sleep loss may eventually interfere with a person’s performance on tasks that require focus, becoming particularly noticeable at nighttime. This could be due to the effects of your natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm.

Your natural tendency to want to be awake during the day may mask signs of sleep debt when it’s light out. But this protective effect may go away as darkness arrives.

Further, just 10 percent of adolescents are getting the optimal hours of sleep each night.

Here’s how parents can help teens get the most possible sleep, despite the demands of school and work:

•Teenagers should stick to a consistent bedtime, preferably before 10 PM

•Keep sleep and wake times as consistent as possible from day to day; maintaining a more regular sleep schedule makes it easier to fall asleep

•Don’t sleep in — strive to wake up no more than two to three hours later on weekends to keep biological clocks on cycle

Resources:
Live Science January 13, 2010
U.S. News & World Report January 15, 2010

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