While some people can’t handle sleep loss at all, others have been found to tolerate it much better. We don’t yet know the molecular protective factor that’s involved, but researchers are trying to uncover it.

engage the entire household in the treatment plan. That’s because it’s particularly tough to change a teenager’s wake-up time if no one else in the family is getting up in the morning and the household culture is to stay up late. It’s definitely harder to change a teen’s sleep pattern when not only puberty is involved but genetics as well. This double whammy can take time to turn around. (If you or your spouse is a night owl, see Chapter 12 for ideas on how you can set a good sleep model for your teen.)

To add to the bank of potentially inheritable sleep problems, cutting-edge studies have shown that there may be a genetic link to the length of time a person sleeps. If one parent is a “short sleeper”—he or she naturally goes to sleep late and wakes up early—the child will be predisposed to be a short sleeper too.

An Important Period for Sleep

While getting enough high-quality sleep at any age is crucial, it’s particularly important for adolescents. Not only do they need it for all the growing and changing and learning they must accomplish, and to function at their best, but they need to establish a healthy sleep habit for all the years ahead. Teens who stay up well into the night and are exhausted all day can let an age-related problem turn into a life-long pattern of living. As teens make the transition from child to adult, they can add greatly to their chances of enjoying a healthy future if they start following a healthy sleep pattern.

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