This Might Be Why You Can't Wake Up Your Teen

sleeping teenSo I think I might have figured out what was wrong with me (and most of my friends) during high school. Maybe the reason why I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning wasn't because I was depressed or apathetic or anemic. Maybe I wasn't dozing off in class because I was bored to tears by the stale curriculum.

Maybe I was just tired!

Turns out that the classic teenage tendency to stay up all night and sleep like the dead way past noon is sometimes more than an adolescent quirk. (So before you throw a bucket of water on your kid's head, keep reading.)


Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, or DSPS, is a circadian rhythm disorder that makes the brain's sleep-wake clock go all haywire. Apparently 7 to 16 % of kids and teens have DSPS, which makes it difficult to fall asleep before 2 or 3 a.m., even if the person is exhausted from staying up super-late the night before. Experts aren't sure what causes it, but they think it might have something to do with an "exaggerated reaction" to the internal clock shift all kids experience during adolescence.

The good news is, there are ways to help treat or at least manage DSPS, including light therapy, avoiding sugar and caffeine, and slowly adjusting your teen's schedule. If the following symptoms describe your teen with frightening accuracy, make an appointment with a sleep specialist:

Can't fall asleep until after midnight, every night.

Is practically impossible to wake up in the morning.

Falls asleep during classes, especially those early in the day.

Shows signs of depression and/or substance abuse.

Sound familiar? Oh, and by the way, DSPS tends to be hereditary, so don't be surprised if you're having flashbacks to your own youth.

Do you think your teen could have DSPS?


Image via D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr

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