Moms In Motion: Why Teenagers' Laziness May Be Legitimate - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Moms In Motion: Why Teenagers' Laziness May Be Legitimate

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It was only after he underwent sleep therapy that Caelin Jones felt like he could fully function in the mornings. For years his alarm went off at six, but for hours his mind struggled to catch up.

"I would get to school and pretty much be the same as all the other kids," Jones said. "We were all just bleary eyed and kind of like 'why are we here at this time? I don't want to be here!'"

That's not an uncommon attitude for teenagers, but it may not entirely be their fault. Experts say, try as they might, teenagers simply can't fall asleep as early as others.

"It's not just that they don't want to, or that they have a lot of activities or Facebook or homework time, which they do as well, but they physiologically can't fall asleep earlier anymore," said Dr. Lisa Meltzer, a sleep psychologist at the National Jewish Health, in Denver.

Dr. Meltzer said the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate our sleep, shifts by about two hours in teenagers. Because of that they need to sleep later in the morning, but most public and private schools don't allow it.

So, to see how that impacts teenagers she compared typical students to those who are home-schooled. What she found in this first of a kind study, was eye-opening.

On average, teens who are home-schooled sleep 90 minutes more a night. In fact, they wake up nearly 20 minutes after other schools have started. And in public and private schools, nearly half of all students don't get enough sleep.

"And it impacts every aspect of functioning. So you think about academics, they're ability to learn, concentrate, pay attention, is all diminished when you haven't had enough sleep."

It also affects everything from a teenager's mood to their ability to drive, which is why Dr. Meltzer is using this study to urge schools to rethink their hours.

Experts said schools that have moved start times back report less tardiness and higher graduation rates. They said this study doesn't necessarily mean home-schooled students do better, but they are more rested. You'll find simple tips on getting your teen more sleep at www.nationaljewish.org, and click on "news".