Not enough sleep for teens can affect school, mood, driving

Daylight savings is this weekend. We'll all lose an hour of sleep, but it may be hardest on your teenager.

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.

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

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

Dr. Lisa Meltzer, with National Jewish Health says, "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."

Dr. Meltzer, a sleep psychologist says 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 schools don't allow it. 

So, to see how that impacts teens she compared typical students to those who are homeschooled.

What she found was eye-opening. On average, teens who are homeschooled sleep 90 minutes more a night.

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.

Dr. Meltzer says, "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 say schools that have moved start times back report less tardiness among teenagers and higher graduation rates.

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