Adolescent Lack of Sleep Actually Lack of Responsibility
US researchers say that the inner clock (circadian rhythm) of teenagers directs them to be ready for sleep later at night than when they were younger.
This has become just one more opportunity to take the responsibility off the person and the parents, and to be able to place blame. The blame is put on schools for not starting later to accommodate teenagers – it must be the schools’ responsibility. It is also a wonderful opportunity to tell us (again) that we need the (socialist-leaning) government to force the situation. In this case, it is to force schools to change their hours. The bottom line is that many adults do not parent their kids and the government thinks that none of us is smart enough to do so.
From the National Sleep Foundation: “On April 2, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), introduced a congressional resolution to encourage schools and school districts to reconsider early morning start times to be more in sync with teens’ biological makeup. House Congressional Resolution 135 or the “ZZZ’s to A’s” Act would encourage individual schools and school districts all over the country to move school start times to no earlier than 8:30 a.m.”
If teenagers “are our future,” as one author put it, they deserve to be parented. Left to their own devices, young children might have cookies and soda for dinner every night, never take a bath, never brush their teeth, etc. Parents usually step in to guide their young children instead. Adolescents are still in need of guidance and parenting.
“What can I do to improve things,” is the appropriate question, not “Who can I blame for my problem?” If responsibility for things is given early in life, it is a concept that kids can understand and appreciate. When a teenage girl is asked occasionally to wash dishes, she may leave dishes with food on them on the counter every day. When she is given the responsibility to wash all of her dishes every day, she will avoid this consequence by rinsing each dish after she uses it. It is a win-win situation when people take responsibility. It is difficult for teenagers to take responsibility for their own actions when their parents won’t take responsibility for parenting.
Almost all of the circadian rhythm research on teenagers was done in the US. At least one study compared American teenagers with those in Italy. Everyone has to occasionally adjust their inner clock (during daylight savings time, when traveling in a different time zone, or sometimes when we change jobs, etc.), and it can be done. The study cited below found that the main difference (between the success of the adolescents in Italy versus those in the US), in addition to and to help facilitate adjusting the inner clock, is in bedtime routine and “sleep hygiene.” That makes it dependent upon conditions which can be controlled and changed.
From Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, January 2005, study of teenagers in Italy and the USA: “Italian adolescents practiced markedly better sleep hygiene and reported substantially better sleep quality than American adolescents. Across cultures, reported practice of sleep hygiene (ASHS total) was moderately to strongly related to sleep quality (ASWS total), and these relationships were not attributable to any of the measured demographic and individual difference variables. Furthermore, differences in overall sleep quality between the Italian and American samples were, for the most part, due to differences in sleep-hygiene practices.”
They found “increased sleep problems among adolescents who worry, feel sad (parents, do you listen to your kids?), or engage in cognitively stimulating activities just before bedtime.”
“In Italy, better sleep-hygiene practices may be due to maintenance of parental involvement into early adolescence.”
“Our findings suggest that sleep hygiene is importantly related to sleep quality during adolescence and support the implementation and evaluation of educational programs that emphasize good sleep habits. Investigating similarities and differences in sleep and sleep-related practices within and across countries may facilitate an understanding of factors that underlie sleep/wake regulation during adolescence. Furthermore, these results indicate that culture may influence sleep-hygiene practices and that these sleep-related behaviors may put adolescents from different cultures at risk for poor sleep quality.”
American parents seem to do less parenting than Italian parents. But, despite the propaganda from Congress, parents can change this without government intervention. If schools are forced to start later, they will end later, so teenagers will stay up later still. Unless parents improve things at home, the cycle would not be changed, merely the time of day that the cycle starts. The article below tells how.