What if the behavior we casually dismiss as just your typical teen angst—moodiness, sleeping all day, impulsive behavior—is really not a normal part of being a teen? What if they are, in reality, symptoms of chronic and severe sleep deprivation?
Lack of sleep can put teens into “a kind of perpetual cloud or haze,” says Dr. Mary Carskadon in an interview with the Child Mind Institute. That haze, she says, can negatively affect a teenager’s mood; their ability to think, react and regulate their emotions; and to learn and get along with adults.
The brain needs sleep to replenish energy sources, said Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Sleep is critical to maintain focus and alertness, to repair and maintain brain cells, to clear out toxic metabolites,” he said.
Dr. Allison Baker, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, agrees. She says teens who don’t get the kind of sleep they need in order to be able to self-regulate can actually exhibit many of the same symptoms as kids with ADHD. Signs of sleepiness can include an inability to sit still, to stay on task and to focus.
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