CDC study warns lack of sleep could put teens in danger

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's a battle both teens and parents face just about every day - the alarm goes off and sleep deprived teens struggle to get out of bed. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that lack of sleep could be putting kids in a dangerous situation.

The research finds sleep deprivation increases the risk of unintentional injuries, and the effect is cumulative.

"If they need 9 hours of sleep and they're only getting, on average, about 7 hours of sleep," said sleep psychologist Lisa Meltzer. "By the end of the school week they're 10 hours of sleep behind. That's more than a full night of sleep behind."

However, teens may have a biological reason for wanting to sleep in. According to experts, the production of melatonin, a hormone which regulates sleep, can peak a few hours later in teens.

"It's not just that they don't want to, or that they have a lot of activities or Facebook or homework time, which they do as well," said Meltzer. "They physiologically can't fall asleep earlier anymore."

CDC researchers found that students who only get five to six hours a night were twice as likely to report risky behavior, like driving after drinking or riding with a driver who had been drinking.

"Their ability to learn, concentrate, pay attention, is all diminished when you haven't had enough sleep," said Meltzer.

Sleep psychologists tell teens to put away phones and tablets before bed, avoid soda or caffeinated drinks and stick to a regular bed time to get back on track.
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