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Why you sleep like the living dead

 
You know how it goes: You can’t get out of bed ‘til Mom drags you out. You fall asleep in homeroom. And pre-calc. And mid-sit-up in gym. If you don’t get a 3 p.m. nap in, you’re pretty sure things are gonna go south, stat. You can hardly keep your eyes open to finish your English essay. But come 2 a.m., you are wide awake, ready to take on the world.

 

Here’s the sitch:

The fact of the matter is that your internal clock is totally nutty when you’re a teen, which means it usually isn’t synced up with the sched Mom and Dad (and your school) say ya need to stick to. Why is that? Well, once puberty settles in, your body tends to release melatonin, a hormone which makes you sleepy, hours after it usually does so in adults. That’s why you spend hours wide-eyed when you should be catching zzz’s. And when ya wake up? According to the study, you lose sensitivity to a.m. light, meaning that the rays that peek through your curtains when your alarm goes off have about as good a chance of making you feel refreshed and ready to go as a cup of warm milk. Awesome, right?

 

And that’s not all…

Beyond that, falling asleep in the wee hours only to rejoin the land of the living a few hours later, though, is detrimental to your cognitive health, a recent study reports. Only 7.6 percent of teenagers regularly hit the hay for 9 to 10 hours, as recommended. More than one-third get six or fewer hours of sleep a night, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This sleep loss can hamper neuron growth during your teen years, and that’s when you rely on it most for SAT-acing brain power.

 

What can you do?

With bestie stress, homework and after-school activities, it’s tough to wind down early. But until schools start pushing back start times, it’s essential for your health—and believe it or not, the more solid sleep you get, the happier and more positive you’ll feel. During the day, avoid caffeine and bites loaded with sugar. Get in a workout that makes you sweat, whether it’s running around your neighborhood or dancing in your bedroom. If you’re feeling stressed out, listen to some calming music or try ten minutes of yoga when you get home from school. Leave your phone on the kitchen counter instead of your night table and power down electronics two hours before your head hits the pillow. Sleep well!

BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 12/13/2012 10:45:00 AM

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