Circadian Rhythms and Teens: a Love/Hate Relationship

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Circadian Rhythm: most people probably rarely ever come across this term, although it has a large effect on our day-to-day lives. As a matter of fact, probably everyone has experienced it if they’ve traveled to a different time zone. Jet lag, narcolepsy, insomnia, night-owl sleep syndrome, work-sleep disorder; circadian rhythm appears in a wide variety of common conditions.

Circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake pattern present in human beings which regulates when they wake up and go to sleep. One of the most common circadian disorders is insomnia.

How does insomnia affect high school students? How much does the average student know about it? Freshman Dylan Atkins admits he doesn’t know much about insomnia or sleep disorders because the subject isn’t explored in health class, though he himself has been diagnosed with insomnia.

Experts estimate between 20-30% of men suffer from sleep disorders, and 100,000 people in the US have died from them. Teens are especially vulnerable to sleep disorders, as hormonal changes can cause disruptions in sleep patterns. Many high schools, included Herron, have been changing to later school start times to help high school students get more sleep.

“Herron starts later than most schools and that makes it a lot easier to deal with on nights that I end up not being able to handle myself and stay up to late” said freshman Michael Kellems, an insomniac. “I definitely work better on Fridays because the later schedule and the later start time because I stay up a whole lot.”

Insomnia can have advantages, and Kellems notes that he has more time to get work done, but he also tends to crash in class after a late night.

When it comes to sleep disorders, managing the condition properly can make all the difference. Getting enough exercise and sticking to a regular bed time are musts for anyone with insomnia. Kellems agrees that managing his insomnia is key to his success as a scholar.

“Now I that I have a grasp on it, it hasn’t been a problem.”

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Circadian Rhythms and Teens: a Love/Hate Relationship