Why Are Teenagers So Sleep-Deprived?

My 16-year-old daughter is finally entering the homestretch of sophomore year, and she has been chronically sleep deprived since September. The reasons are multiple but when you add together 45 minutes of homeworkper class per night, plus a few extra-curricular activities, plus the downtime spent everyday watching a John Green video on YouTube or chatting with friends, and a normal amount of procrastination, it adds up to between 5 and 7 hours of sleep on an average school night. Throw in a term paper or heavy exam week and the average can easily drop to 3 or 4.

My daughter is hardly atypical. In fact, multiple studies have shown that the vast majority of teens today are living with borderline to severe sleep deprivation. According to sleep expert Dr. Mary Carskadon, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University and director of chronobiology and sleep research at Bradley Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, teenagers actually need more sleep than younger kids, not less. Nine and a quarter hours of sleep is what they need to be optimally alert. According to a 2010 large-scale study published in The Journal of Adolescent Health, a scant 8% of US high school students get the recommended amount of sleep. Some 23% get six hours of sleep on an average school night and 10% get only 5 hours.

In studies conducted by Carskadon, half the teens she evaluated were so tired in the morning that they showed the same symptoms as patients with narcolepsy, a major sleep disorder in which the patient nods off and falls directly into REM sleep.

When you consider the fact that many of these kids are getting behind the wheel in the early morning and driving themselves to school, the issue of sleep becomes literally a matter of life and death.

What’s going on here?

So what exactly is keeping teenagers up so late? Unfortunately biology, technology, and societal expectations together create a perfect storm for the chronic sleep deprivation. The major contributors to adolescent sleep debt come down to these:


Along with the more obvious hormonal changes that transform your child into a teen, are shifts in the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. That is why your teenager actually seems more awake at midnight than at dinner and left alone would probably sleep until ten or eleven. It may drive you crazy but, says Dr. Max Van Gilder, a pediatrician in Manhattan, “that is the normal circadian rhythm for 15- to 22-year-olds.” Effectively, they are in a different time zone than the rest of us.

“It’s a major contributing factor to sleep deprivation which is unique to adolescence,” says Dr. Allison Baker, a child and adolescent psychiatrist. “The typical high school student’s natural time to fall asleep is 11pm or later. We really need to adjust the environment instead of asking teenagers to adjust their physiology.”

The problem is compounded when many adolescents, like my daughter, try to make up for lost sleep on the weekends, sometimes sleeping upwards of 12 hours on Friday and Saturday nights, which only further disrupts their sleep cycle. But who has the heart to wake them?


It’s not just that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube are distractions that keep kids up later, it’s the actual light coming off all the electronic devices they’re exposed to, especially late at night. Electronics emit a glow called blue light that has a particular frequency. When it hits receptors in the eye, says Dr. Van Gilder, “those receptors send a signal to the brain which suppresses the production of melatonin and keeps kids from feeling tired. And adolescents are low on melatonin and start producing it later to begin with.” Dr. Van Gilder says he’s seen adolescent bedtimes pushed back an hour to an hour and a half over the years since teens started doing their homework on computers. On average, my teenage patients are going to bed at around 12:30 now.”

Teens who are up late writing papers on computers or chatting with their friends are effectively creating an even more stimulating environment that will only keep them from being able to fall asleep when they want to.


Andrea Pincus and Andrew Multer consider it a good night when their 16 year-old son, Jake Multer, a sophomore at The Dalton School in Manhattan, gets to bed by 12:30. And there’s lots of fighting that goes on around the issue of homework and bedtime. “He tells us we micromanage him,” Pincus says. “He tells us we’re helicopter parents, but does he mention he stays up until 5 or 6am writing a paper?” Pincus and her husband are torn between making Jake go to bed and encouraging him to finish his work regardless of how long it takes. “There’s the anxiety of a kid like Jake who cares about the work. He works with a very nice group of kids on certain assignments and it’s great that they have each other but they also on some level add to the anxiety because you always have one kid who’s staying up later or pulling an all-nighter, putting in more work on a paper or studying for a test and it creates this extra anxiety and competition.”

His brother Sam, 13 and an eighth grader at Hunter College High School in Manhattan, is more or less resigned to being sleep deprived. He figures his current bedtime—anywhere between 11pm and 12:30am—which is so late “for the most part due to homework,” will only get later as he gets older. He says his parents want him to go to bed earlier but “they recognize that if I did that I wouldn’t get my work done and it’s important to me and it’s important to them.” Sam however also admits to having a procrastination and time management problem, some of which he believes comes from being so tired in the afternoon.


We live in a culture that values activity over sleep and there is no part of that culture that reinforces that idea more than the college admissions process. Teens are constantly being told that they have to be “well-rounded” which, in an age when colleges are becoming ever more selective means that the more they do, the better their applications will look. And for some kids, being involved in a lot of extracurricular activities may truly be a matter of pursuing a diversity of passions. Either way, the result is an ever-narrowing window for sleep.

Katrina Karl, 16, is finishing up her junior year at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut. She takes 5 academic classes, participates in the three theatrical productions her school puts on every year and volunteers at the middle school in her town. On top of that she works 13 hours a week at a local grocery store to help pay for summer theater camp and to save money for college. This past year, she says, was brutal. “I was lucky if I got 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night,” she says. On the nights she worked, Karl wouldn’t get home until 9 or 10 o’clock. Then she would start doing several hours of homework. Katrina’s bus picks her up at 6:15am and the first period bell rings at 7:20am.

Karl says she’s been living this way since about halfway through freshman year. “Everyone at my school is exhausted,” she says.

Earlier School Start Times

Very early high school start times, like Karl’s, are not uncommon, despite the fact that they run completely counter to the biological needs of adolescents. “Multiple studies have shown that high school students aren’t functional before 9 am,” says Dr. Van Gilder.

Cathi Hanauer, an author and the editor of the anthology The Bitch In The House, has been at the center of a 7-year battle to change the 7:20 start time of her North Hampton, Massachusetts, high school. “It started before my daughter got to high school. She’s now one year out of college. My son is a sophomore. The resistance has been huge,” she says, “despite the fact that 60% of the students are falling asleep in school.”

According to Hanauer, it all comes down to bussing and sports. The school buses used for the high school are used for the middle and elementary schools that have later start times. Pushing back the start time for the high school would mean either making the younger kids get up earlier or adding more buses which is not in the school budget. Then there are concerns that later start times will compromise the practices of sports teams.

Hanauer and some of the other parents got a consultant in who designed an affordable busing plan and in 2013 the school board finally passed a resolution to move the high school’s start time to between 8:00 and 8:30. They have since overturned the decision. “I’m done,” Hanauer says. “It’s been the most frustrating thing I’ve ever been involved with.”

With more than half of American teenagers living with chronic sleep deprivation, parents and teachers tend to overlook the profound effects it has on kids’ physical, mental and behavioral health. The sleep deficit is not in fact, a normal part of being a teenager. It’s part of an invisible epidemic that we need to start addressing.

Sacred HEALTHY CHOCOLATE Now A Worldwide Obsession… Makes “Forbidden Desserts” A Guilt-Free Indulgence You Can Eat Everyday!

I have a health tip that's so decadent and “naughty”… it’s hard to believe it can help you look and feel so incredibly good…

Today, the MAGIC of this rare chocolate is quickly spreading to the most unlikely places, for good reason....

Not only is it a super nutrient-packed chocolate that’s super healthy for you...

It affects your body and mind in so many powerful ways… people in San Francisco have become absolutely obsessedwith it.

Men and women of all ages are gathering to share it in ceremonial settings at healing centers, tea houses, and yoga studios on a regular basis, as if to worship this highly revered natural food.

It has such profound effects on health and well-being... even San Francisco's hard-to-please tech community are enamored by it. Sena Shellenberger, a former program manager at Google, regularly calls large groups together all over the Bay Area to drink in its incredible power.1

Across the country it’s being served in New York’s finest restaurants, like a delicacy... an experience not to be missed if you go there.

I wonder…

Do they even realize just how life-changing this centuries-old superfood can be when you use it in the RIGHT way?

Many do... like the owner of the very best dessert destination in New York, Max Brenner Chocolates™… who runs a specialized chocolate shop dedicated to helping you experience chocolate in its most perfect form.

And here’s the important thing for you to know about this particular chocolate:

If your joints bother you at times, and if doing the activities you love would be more enjoyable if your joints moved easier then this can help tremendously.

If you want to help support your overall health, you won’t believe how incredibly effective this can be.

If you lack focus, or what I call mental stamina – this can help support your ability think longer, clearer, and stay alert, without jitters…

If you tend to feel sluggish during the day, this can help boost and sustain your physical energy, and supercharge your workouts…

And especially if you want to help promote a HUGE BOOST IN HAPPINESS, this superfood is one of only two foods on the planet that contains the Bliss Molecule (more on this in a moment), which is a naturally occurring molecule that promotes feelings of joy and contentment.

And that’s just the beginning!

The feel-good craze that this rare chocolate creates is sweeping the world like wildfire…

...not just because it’s so delicious…

...not only because it supports CELLULAR health (more on this in a moment)6...

...but also because the blissful feelings it promotes are so dramatic, people say it’s like "instant therapy."

In fact, this chocolate has an unusually high number of life-changing health benefits for a superfood – all supported by research.

It helps provide critical nutrients that scientists have found to be the most important for to support your immediate and long-term health...

It helps your body and brain stay healthy over the long run and leaves you feeling a wonderful natural “high” every single day…

Hmmm… Enjoy This Rich Decadent Chocolate Everyday And Feel GREAT Inside & Out...Sure Sounds Like A No-Brainer To Me!

Yep, it’s TRUE! And today I’m here to explain how you can literally have your cake and eat it too…

Now you can satisfy your sweet tooth and cravings for your favorite treats AND stay healthy, fit, and even promote smooth, beautiful skin!

In fact, when you eat this delicious CHOCOLATE every single day, it can help you…

  • Bring out the bliss in you (literally - more on this in a moment)

  • Calm your body and relax your muscles

  • Support a positive mood

  • More easily support your weight loss goals+

  • Promote and support proper gut health

  • Reduce your cravings and feel full longer, naturally

  • Promote and support skin health

  • Feel a lasting energy boost, without jitters

  • Increase your physical stamina for better workouts, and going strong all day

  • Support brain health and mental focus

  • Increase your mental alertness

  • Support a healthy inflammation response

  • Promote your body’s natural ability to reduce free radicals

  • Improve your heart health

  • Support a healthy aging process

  • Sleep better!

*NOTE: When combined with a healthy diet and exercise regimen

I know this seems a little crazy to see such a massive number of incredibly important health benefits, but they’re all researched and studied over many decades. In fact…

This sacred chocolate craze actually started THOUSANDS of years ago…

… when the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans, and other ancient tribes uncovered its power to support mental and physical strength.

For centuries, they consumed this exquisite “dessert” for the spiritual and aphrodisiac highs they felt…

It was a sacred ritual at every wedding and important right of passage to seal great health and wellness. After all...

This Is The Official "Food of the Gods"

This chocolate is unlike any other food on the planet, and can help improve your life in so many ways, that Carl Linnaeus, the physician and famous scientist who officially classified plants named it the “Food of the Gods”...26 “Theos” (=God) “bromine” (=food) in Greek

The active ingredient comes from the Theobromine Tree in South America.

With careful reverence to its sacred power, the tree’s beans are hand-picked and sun-dried to perfectly preserve all the health properties it contains.

I’ll tell you why antioxidants are so critical to supporting your long-term health in a moment...

First, I know how it feels to be a chocolate lover, and think you have to turn it down because…

“It’s not healthy for you”...

Or because you’re watching your weight…

Or you think eating chocolate sparks even more cravings...

This Chocolate is Different - Really Different

Most chocolate products sold today are LOADED with unhealthy fats and sugar, and go through excessive processing, which strips out most of the nutrients.27

This unique chocolate isn’t processed like mass produced chocolate, and contains no unhealthy fats or sugars, so that all of its health benefits aren’t just preserved, but maximized.

This chocolate contains an incredibly powerful kind of antioxidant to help support cellular health, and a HUGE amount of magnesium and many other essential vitamins and minerals... making this a true “miracle food” that’s far healthier than dark chocolate, and even kale and blueberries!28

This superfood is so incredibly healthy and healing to every cell in your body, I recommend eating it everyday... not just to reward yourself with a delicious treat, but to provide your body with nutrients to support your healthy lifestyle.

And here’s the best part…

You can mix into a hot drink on its own or use it to add a sweet, chocolatey kick to smoothies or desserts – all while helping to support your health and focus.

*** To read more follow the link

Your Shampoo Is Toxic. Here Are 5 Things To Use Instead

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a soft spot for the shower. If I’m honest, it’s slightly addictive — I’ll step inside, intending to have a quick five-minute rinse, covering just the basics… then 15 minutes later I’m wondering where the time went. There’s just something about that gloriously hot water cascading over face and body that washes not only the physical grime away, but all the worries and regrets of the world outside.

And then there’s my hair. I’ll spend a sizable portion of the shower just running my hands through it and allowing the water to work on my wondrous wavy locks. To kick things up a notch, I’ll occasionally pop open a bottle of shampoo followed by a silky smooth squirt of conditioner, and give my hair the spa treatment it deserves.

And that’s where it all starts going downhill.

You see, conventional shampoos and conditioners are designed for show. They’re all about the razzle dazzle, rather than the nurturing. These “hair care” products are engineered to lather up and leave your hair feeling clean at the end of the shower. The thing is, “clean” is not necessarily good when it comes to your hair, and there’s certainly no need to get all sudsy up there — that’s just pure attention seeking nonsense.

Here are the many nasties found in conventional shampoos and conditioners:


Shampoo takes the prize for the single most poisonous thing you put on your hair (and skin) in the shower. Most conventional shampoos contain:

  • Surfactants, which are put in your bottle of shampoo to make it lather up nicely and make you think it’s doing a good job. Surfactants can cause irritation to your scalp and make their way into waterways, where they harm aquatic life.

  • Fragrances, which I’m always on high alert for. Just as in nasty air fresheners and other cleaning products, 99.9 percent of fragrances are composed of chemicals like phthalates, which seriously harm your reproductive capacity and even effect a developing human fetus.

  • Preservatives, which ensure the shelf life of your ‘poo is almost infinite. These ingredients are a potent concoction of synthetic compounds designed to prevent the growth of microorganisms, but in so doing they can also present various toxicity problems for both you and the environment.


Conditioners contain very similar harmful ingredients to shampoo — phthalates, parabens, surfactants… that kind of thing. But as the toxic icing on the cake, they also contain emulsifiers, which prevent the water and oil components in conditioners from separating. These compounds, such as siloxanes, can be incredibly harmful to aquatic life as they are very difficult to break down, meaning they can remain in natural water bodies for years.

Good things to put on your hair every time you shower

Now that you know what not to put on your hair, here are some of the things that are definitely good to put on your hair every time you shower.

Baking Soda

Around our house, baking soda reigns supreme. Of course, we use it in baking recipes, but we also use it for brushing our teeth, rinsing and whitening our clothes, cleaning out the inside of bottles (by combining it with vinegar to make an impressive science experiment) and plenty more. But where it really comes into its own is in the shower.

Every time I want to wash my hair, I simply pour one to two tablespoons (depending on how long or oily my hair is) into a jar or glass, top up with water, and give it a stir or shake. Then, in the shower, I simply pour a little at a time onto my scalp and the rest of my hair and gently massage it in. The baking soda works wonders — my hair is left feeling wonderfully clean, without all those nasty ingredients and for a fraction of the price of shampoo!

Apple Cider Vinegar

If baking soda is your new natural shampoo, apple cider vinegar is the conditioner. I always follow up a baking soda hair wash with apple cider vinegar (ACV), which softens and moisturizes your hair. It also rebalances the pH after the baking soda made it more alkaline. I use a similar process to the baking soda — one to two tablespoons of pure ACV then topped up with water. You can actually use any old vinegar, but I find that ACV is perhaps a little less intense on my sensitive scalp.

Castile Soap

Dr. Bronners’ Castile soap is another staple in our bathroom — it’s a great healthy alternative to hand soaps, makes an excellent body wash, and can even be used as a pleasant-smelling (without the fake fragrances) shampoo. Because it has simple, natural ingredients, it’s become world famous for its versatility and lack of toxicity.

But Castile soap can be a tiny bit strong sometimes. So, to create your very own moisturizing shampoo for sensitive skin and hair, simple mix an equal measure of full-fat coconut milk with soap. This introduces a soothing, moisturizing element to really up the health ante of your Castile shampoo. To really kick things up another notch, consider adding a drop or two of your favorite essential oil, like lavender or rosemary.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is rich in vitamin E and antioxidants, making it an excellent ingredient to put on your skin, in your mouth… or on your hair! Add olive oil to your shower routine to provide an amazingly deep conditioning that will leave your hair soft and silky, or pour some into your conventional shampoo (if you simply refuse to throw it out) to make it a whole lot more nourishing for your hair. Just be sure to rinse it out afterward, unless you want an oily towel or clothes!


The ingredients just get weirder and weirder! The yolks of eggs contain lecithin, an ingredient you’ve probably seen in many food products and cosmetics (usually in the nastier forms of soy or sunflower lecithin). Egg lecithin is a natural emulsifier, meaning it helps to combine water and oil… that’s one of the reasons why eggs are such an important ingredient in most baking recipes.

This emulsifying action allows a simple egg yolk shampoo to rinse the excess oils from your hair and leave it feeling clean and fresh. Along with their natural moisturizing and nourishing natural compounds, this is why eggs form the backbone of any good natural shampoo recipe. It’s a thing — Google it!

-Liivi Hess