Understanding the Teenage Circadian Shift or Sleep Wake Cycle

During Adolescence and teen years, children are going through a considerable amount of physical and psychological changes and transformations. One of the most obvious manifestations of this change occurs within their sleep patterns. As Dr Sharal Ahluwalia states in his research, a neurologist and sleep disorder specialist, this change often surprises parents, who are suddenly confronted with a child who has changed from being an early riser to one who is difficult to wake up and equally difficult to get to sleep at night.

It is a natural occurrence as the teenagers own body clock, which is known as the circadian shift, adapts from a child’s sleeps pattern to that of an adult. However, there are many sleep problems caused by these sleep pattern changes that happen in teenage years, not least of which is insomnia. However, a significant proportion of such problems are caused by the demands that society makes on the child.

For example, all parents know that there comes a time in teenage years where, left to their own devices the child will sleep through in the morning well past the hours that adults and others are awake and going about their daily work and chores. Likewise, a teenager will still be active at midnight and later when adults are calling it a day. However educational society, designed and operated by adults, insists that teenagers should be at colleges and universities well before what would be a natural waking time for them. Despite being woken so early, the teenager will still be naturally inclined to stay up late.

This disruption of the Childs sleep-wake pattern can have a serious effect on the child. Not only can it contribute towards the onset of insomnia, it can also make them drowsy, listless and lacking in concentration abilities during the day. The effects of these can be physical, in that it does not do their health any good, and also this lack of awareness can endanger them, because they are likely to be less responsive to risk. For example, a teenager suffering from these problems and riding to college may be less careful about sensible road craft, therefore increasing the possibility of them having an accident.

Similarly, this sleep depravation problem may also have a marked effect upon their educational results. As Dr Ahluwalia remarks, it is found that generally teenagers in this position will perform poorly in subjects they have to attend in the mornings.

On average teenager need around an hour more sleep than adults and it is important that they get this level of sleep, so what Dr Ahluwalia advises is that parents makes suret their teenage child has a consistent sleep routine throughout the week, to help alleviate potential problems bought on by lack of sleep.