detailed in a question-and-answer format and the other teens’ insights will be featured in boxes.
Elyssa: Let me start out by saying that I am by no means the perfect poster child for adolescent sleep. At times I have pulled all-nighters, slept past noon, and stayed up all night talking to friends or watching TV. However, from my 17 years of sleep experience, I have discovered that to perform at my top level academically and physically, I have to get an adequate amount of sleep. Since I know how little sleep teens get—even fewer hours than their parents think, if you count the last-minute review of note cards, the magazine reading, and the secret trips to the computer in the middle of the night—I want to share my experience and knowledge to help you help my peers feel better and perhaps ease your minds in the process.
Q: What’s the sleep-wake schedule you follow most of the time and do the hours you sleep keep you feeling good and doing well all day?
A: During the school year I go to sleep between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m. Sometimes I’ll go to sleep earlier if I’ve had a long day of school plus tennis practice or a match (I play singles on my high school team) and if I don’t have that much homework. But sometimes I’ll go to sleep later if I have a lot of work to do that night. I wake up around 7:00 and leave the house around 7:40. On weekends and during the summer I usually go to sleep around 12:30 or sometimes 1:00, and wake up somewhere between 9:30 and 10:30. By keeping to this schedule I get the same number of hours on the weekends that I get during the week and alter my sleep-wake time by only about two hours—which my mom says keeps you from getting a phase delay further out of whack.
Of course, there are days when I go to bed later or earlier; it all depends on what’s happening the next day. Tennis lesson at 8:30 in the morning? I am in bed by 11:30 at the latest. I try to get somewhere around eight hours if I can, and I think that’s the key. I know that some schools start earlier than mine, and some students have to wake up around the ungodly hour of 6:00 or 6:15, but that doesn’t mean they have to go to sleep at 8:00 or 9:00. I think that as long as you are in