Fact Zap

Why teenagers stay up late ?

It is important for teens to sleep well. But bed timings in teenagers are a lot different from adults. Hormones in their body make them stay up late at night or sleep longer during the day.

Tryptophan Melatonin bed time clipart by Fact-Zap

As the sun sets, our body gets ready to sleep. It realeases a hormone called Melatonin.
Melatonin is called the dracula hormone, as it appears only at night. As darkness sets in, human eyes signal the brain to increases the production of Melatonin.

Our body's main clock is the SCN. It is a part of the brain. It controls working of all body organs like stomach, liver, muscles, etc. When melatonin signals bed time, SCN passes on the message to organs. They change their work mode accordingly.

Science behind sleep

Information stored in our memory gets tidied up. Memories are better organised. Growth hormones get to work. Damaged DNA is repaired. Free radicals are destroyed. Body releases hormones that repair the body. A sleeping person is biologically active on the inside.
Artificial lights (TV, computers, cell phones) at bedtime send false signals. It delays melatonin production. This is the reason behind late bed time, lack of sleep and disturbed sleep. In the long run, lack of proper maintenance and repair affects the body.

Melatonin cycle

Human body starts making melatonin 3 months after birth. In teenagers, melatonin production starts late during the day. It makes them sleep late and wake up late. Studies show melatonin production in teens start 3 hours later than adults. Their morning routines may fall behind by 3 hours. As students, teens find it difficult to focus when their body is still in its sleep cycle. This may affect brain development, overall health and lead to stress.

Dealing with sleep problems

It is important for educators and parents to understand sleep patterns in teens. Fixed bed times do not work well with teens. Diet, exercise, stress levels and daily habits also affect the human body and its hormones. Sleep timings and duration vary from person to person. Customized schedules are important for teens.

A teenager staying up all night, or a teen sleeping all day is not at fault. Blame it on his body and its hormones. Answer to teen sleep problems range from reduced blue light to a healthy diet and stress free life. Schools are increasingly moving towards changing school timings.