Abstract and Keywords
A common feature of adolescent development is a change in the timing of sleep: most teens seem to need the same amount of sleep they did as preadolescents, yet they show a strong preference to fit their sleep into a later temporal niche, going to bed and waking up at much later times. This tendency is fueled by biological and psychosocial factors. Sleep bioregulatory processes—circadian timing and sleep homeostasis—show evidence of pronounced changes across adolescent development. The circadian system moves to a delayed phase position, and the sleep homeostatic system shows slower buildup of sleep pressure in the daytime, although the recuperative process does not change across adolescence. The lives of teens and emerging adults reflect these bioregulatory changes primarily in later bedtimes, where the biology also catches the wave of enticing twenty-first century technologies that add to late-night arousal and light exposure. Problems arise because social pressures—in particular the start of the school day—result in early mornings that cut short the amount of sleep. Short sleep on school days and long and late sleep on weekends result in a pattern of insufficient and irregular sleep that may have consequences for physical, emotional, and mental health.
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