Why too little sleep adversely affect adolescents

On the occasion of the beginning of the school year TV show “Zdravlje na kvadrat”, on Nova TV aired a report on the topic of whether the classes begins too early, given that a large number of children in the evening has a different activity? Interlocutor was Vanja Slijepčević Saftić, PhD, a neuropaediatrician from the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, who said that moving the beginning of the classes for one hour later had significant beneficial effects for the adolescent population, but not for the children in elementary school:

“Moving the clock has a very significant effect on the long-term quality of life,  the achievements,  the social implementation of such children, the satisfaction of the family … All these effects are closely linked to the rhythm of sleep, which is specific in the adolescent population, because only in the adolescent population hormone melotnin, which controls sleep and wakefulness, excreted two hours later than in child and adult population. Classes beginning at 7 or 8 hours a.m. are disruptive to adolescents night rhythms, the entire vertical hormone, such as cortisol and leptonin, and this disturbs many functions. Not only sleep, but an immune system and  cardiovascular disease, and with a long-term effect.”

There is a kind of epidemic of irritable young people. Then they try to cheat biorhythm by drinking coffee or bioenergy drinks.

“Adolescents who sleep 5 hours or less, will have effect as if they were drinking 1.5 promil of alcohol – thus reducing cognitive and other skills that are inherent to this propulsive young smart generation. In case of insufficient sleep, occur changes in the frontal part of the brain responsible to behave rationally, which act to suppress the center of rational behavior. Therefore, other part of the brain, which we call the emotional brain says: You are impulsive, you can drive 250 km per hour, you want to see a flash on the other side … The second part of the brain then predominates. Optimum is 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep, but the average adolescent sleeps for about 5 hours. Would you woke up a child of two years every morning 6 a.m. to get ready for life one day when they will go to kindergarten and elementary school. It’s the same as when adolescents wake up at 6 a.m. to be ready for a life that will be followed in 10 or 12 years. In addition, one of the most common factors of obesity among young people is the fact that by suppressing certain hormonal activities related to a short sleep, 5 hours and shorter, the feeling of hunger, and the hunger for carbohydrates, is increasing. And that’s why we often see 10 to 20 people in the bakery in the morning, including 90% of teenagers.”

It is interesting that on weekends adolescents tend to compensate for this lack of sleep, but sleeping longer on weekends does not help:

“They are moving from a short-term phase to a long-term sleep, and today it is known as a social jet lag. It means that you fly every weekend on Saturday and Sunday back and forth for two time zones.” concluded Vanja Slijepčević Saftić, PhD.

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