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From Night Owl to Early Bird: Your Guide to Waking up Bright and Early

Summer break — a time of fun, relaxation, and escape from the long days of school. One of the best things about summer break, as many can agree upon, is being able to sleep in. While school has us up bright and early, summer break grants us the freedom to stay in bed as the morning hours go by; 10, 11, even 12 o’clock! However, as the new school year quickly approaches and many students across Canada prepare their return to in-class schooling, we must jump back into our early wake-up schedules.

Why do many teens sleep so late?

According to the Better Health Channel of the Victoria State Government, most adolescents get 6.5 - 7.5 hours of sleep per night or less. A few major causes of sleep deprivation among teens include busy after-school schedules, hormonal time shifts, sleep disorders, leisure activities such as video-gaming or scrolling through social media, and the use of screen-based devices before bed.

It is extremely important to get enough sleep, and teenagers need approximately 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Chronic sleep deprivation among adolescents can result in many negative effects, some of which can have a severe impact on mental health, physical health, cognitive brain function, academic performance, and risk of depression.

Early Birds vs Night Owls

Although research suggests that adolescents tend to sleep later than others, this is not the case for all. In fact, many people are naturally early risers! It is a common belief that whether you are an “early bird” or a “night owl” is simply a matter of personal preference; however, research is beginning to reveal that this is actually predetermined in our genes.

A study from the University of Leicester shows that in a fruit fly — whose gene clocks are similar to that of humans — nearly 80 genes are associated with different behaviours including morning/evening preferences. Dr. Eran Tauber, researcher and one of the three study authors, concludes, “An obvious question is what causes the different expression in the larks and owls. This difference is largely due to genetic variations in their DNA sequences — different gene versions that are present in larks and owls.”

Image is courtesy of AsapSCIENCE

Tips on Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule

Whether you prefer rising at the crack of dawn or sleeping in through the morning, it is likely you may find yourself in need of some adjustments as school begins. To help you with this task, we’ve compiled some useful tips on adjusting your sleep schedule, backed up by articles from Harvard and Sleep Education.

  • As aforementioned, teens require 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Set a bedtime that, depending on your wake-up time, allows you to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.

  • Make an effort to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends. Your sleep schedule develops your body’s internal clock, and maintaining a consistent schedule will allow you to fall asleep and wake up easier.

  • Avoid anything that will hinder your ability to sleep well. This can include drinking caffeine, consuming lots of sugar, and looking at screens. Try to avoid these things at least a few hours before bedtime.

  • If you suffer from insomnia or other disorders that affect your ability to sleep, try making improvements towards a healthy balance of diet and exercise, engage in activities that help with relaxation and stress reduction, and ensure a comfortable sleep environment. If you are having persistent issues affecting your ability to sleep well, consult a doctor or health professional.

  • Avoid procrastinating going to bed. According to Popular Science, bedtime procrastination — a term coined by physicians — is when someone continuously puts off going to bed, without any particular reason to. This may be due to an unwillingness to cut today’s relaxing evening short and have tomorrow come. In the case of teenagers, this may be an attempt to evade tomorrow’s school day, homework, or perhaps, a big test? Overcome bedtime procrastination by focusing on self-control and overcoming procrastination of daily tasks.

To conclude, sleep is extremely important for many reasons. It is understandable that in the busy time of school, homework, extracurriculars, and part-time jobs, it can be a challenge to ensure we are getting an adequate amount of sleep. However, as teenagers whose bodies and brains are growing and developing, it is imperative to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. As the new school year quickly approaches, keep these tips handy, especially if you are in need of making the shift from night owl to early bird!

Featured image is courtesy of Pexels via Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush

Article Author: Victoria Huang Article Editor: Valerie Shirobokov