basis. She’s got to catch the 6:30 bus to get to school for the 7:20 start time, which means she drags herself into the shower at about 6:15. Most weekdays she barely gets six hours of sleep—which is at least three hours less than the nine-plus hours teens need to function optimally. So over the course of a school week, your daughter is deprived of 15 hours of all-important sleep.

Then, let’s say, she sleeps from 1:00 a.m. to noon on both Saturday and Sunday. Ah, you think, she’s catching up, she’s getting her much-needed nine hours on both days plus two extra hours. But we have to look at the big picture. Yes, she’s getting more sleep than she does on school nights, but since she needs nine hours, she’s only paying back two hours of sleep debt each night. Even after a great weekend of sleep, your daughter is still deprived of nearly 11 hours of the good stuff—and that’s after only one week of school!

Being so significantly sleep deprived causes problems. (Getting a bit less than nine hours a night on occasion may not have a major negative impact on your teen’s well-being, but chronic sleep restriction of less than eight hours a night has been proven to impair it.) What are those problems? Everything from being downright grouchy and more than a little unpleasant to health problems, including a higher risk for infections and obesity; emotional problems, such as increased anger and sadness; judgment problems, including the inability to think clearly; increased risk of injury; poorer sports performance; and an increased propensity to abuse alcohol and other drugs. In the following chapter I’ll go into depth on these and other problems related to sleep deprivation, and in Chapter 4 you’ll find an in-depth look at the newly discovered, critical link between learning and sleep. In both chapters you’ll learn how sleep deprivation is a major threat to your teen’s well-being.

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