One Patient Says …
“Lack of sleep has made keeping up with everything at school much more difficult. I found myself missing school at least once a week—I just couldn’t get out of bed because I had slept so little on previous days. Even more problems ensued when I developed an inflammation in my digestive system [for more on the link between lack of sleep and digestive problems, see below]. I was sick for months and missed school just about every other day—every time I thought I was better I was out of school again, and that hurt my social life as well as my schoolwork. So little sleep made me completely sick and stressed.”
job by 8:00 a.m.—and guess what? His headaches returned and he felt exhausted again. But this time Henry knew what to do, and he didn’t wait until the problem was entrenched before he solved it. He got back on a schedule, limited his late nights, and started using his light visor again. Things weren’t perfect—teens do love their late nights, for privacy and for communicating with friends—but the treatment made Henry feel much, much better and enabled him to function a lot more comfortably. (For more on the sleep deprivation–headache link, see Chapter 11.)
Insufficient sleep can dramatically increase your teen’s risk of injury and death, particularly while driving a car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsiness or fatigue is a major cause of at least 100,000 police-reported traffic crashes each year that kill more than 1,500 Americans and injure 71,000. Drivers under the age of 25 are responsible for 55 percent of those accidents.
One state, New Jersey, has enacted a law that classifies drowsy driving—defined as operating a motor vehicle after having been awake for 24 hours or longer—in the same category as drunk driving, making those convicted eligible for second-degree homicide charges. The law, called Maggie’s Law, named after Maggie McDonnell, a 20-year-old college student who was killed by a drowsy driver who had been awake for 30 hours, was enacted in 2003. In 2005 the first driver, a New