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Adolescents ARE at risk!


Becoming acquainted with sleep deprived adolescents:

Adolescent sleep deprivation is widespread among all races (1). Circadian rhythm changes during adolescence (2). The hormone, melatonin, controls sleep cycles. It is released later at night and shuts off later in the morning during adolescence than during child or adulthood. (4). Through homework, extra-curricular activities, biological changes, late night stimulation (food or video games), and becoming employed, Adolescents are 100% susceptible to sleep deprivation (2). The caloric level of adolescents changes throughout the day, and is hard to balance. This leaves them never feeling "full" (4). With the onset of a new caloric level and appetite, adolescents experience many new and fatty foods. Thus, many become overweight because they do not know when they are "full." This causes more weight on the chest, and it obstructs their airway during sleep. In effect, they never reach REM sleep, and they become sleep deprived (5).

How can a teacher identify sleep deprived students?

"Zoning out" in class. Sleeping in class. Dramatic change in grades, homework, and in-class participation. Physical appearance: ~Weak posture ~Dark circles under the students' eyes ~Glazed over eyes ~Negative attitude ~Delayed class responses In-class note taking is hard for sleep deprived students. Students will be unparticipatory in class and other activities. Tests prove to be very difficult because the adolescent had a hard time retaining lecture info., and it is now very hard to perform on the exam.

*All sleep deprived indications come from source numbers (3) and (8)*

~School districts that have changed high school start times to later in the morning have seen some preliminary positive results. However, if the district does not reschedule start times, then teachers are left to cope as best they can. These ideas might help: Conduct lesson plans, which involve kinesthetic learning. Example 1:

How can you, as a teacher, counteract sleep deprived students?

Try role playing! Introduce a topic to the students, and then let them reenact what they learned. By allowing them to get out of their seats, they can move about, which will deter them from their sleep related issues. Plus, it is proven that when students are involved in learning, they retain information better! The Key to this technique is involve everybody, so make sure all the students are active (5). Example 2: Conduct a people search! This activity is simple, and it is fun! This can be used for test reviews, in-class work, or discussing a topic. Let us assume you have a class of thirty students. Thus, create a list of fifteen questions. Hand out the questions to each student (there will be two students with the same questions (if more time is available, you do not have to duplicate questions, and you can give one question per student, so each students has a different

question). When the student receives his/her question, the student will answer the question, as does every other student. Once each student has their question answered, the students must search out the other students who have the other missing questions that they do not. The goal is to get all of the missing questions by visiting the other students who have the answers. This method gets every student out of their seats and involves them in class. Example 3: Try playing educational games! Games are great to test the knowledge and awareness students have in class. This is where teachers get to be creative. Jeopardy, Bingo, Puzzles, and other strategies are all conductive to learning. Moreover, students are always excited when they get to play games, and they step outside of the normal class structure. Games are a guaranteed way to counteract sleep deprivation (3)!

Example 4: Overall, class participation is critical in structuring lesson plans. Enforcing class participation through: randomly calling on students, making participation a grade requirement,

allowing group work, and creating diverse lessons, will all counteract sleep deprived students. As an educator, it is important to adjust to the students' needs, and class participation is nearly enjoyed by all students, and it facilitates a large range of learning styles (5). Talk to the students who seem affected by their sleep patterns. It is important to share a bond between teachers and students. If a teacher notices a significant decrease in a student's work, behavior, or appearance, then talk to the student, or simply ask how he/she is doing. This will show the student that YOU, the teacher, is empathetic to the student's well-being. Furthermore, it will show the student that YOU are devoted to the success of the student! Simply stated, IT NEVER HURTS TO ASK! Students actually will appreciate it because they know YOU CARE (5)! Allow a daily snack? It seems adolescents do not make time to east breakfast. This is the most essential meal of the day because it allows the body to function efficiently throughout the day. Breakfast energizes the body, but many adolescents skip this critical meal because they are intent on getting ready and off to school for the day. Counteract this by offering a brief snack time because it will allow the adolescents to gain their strength for the day! Also, it gives the teacher a time to prepare lessons, grade papers, or eat a little breakfast yourself!

BE CREATIVE! Get the students involved in the class and DO NOT allow them to sit in their seats the entire class period. This will be exciting for the students who are already awake, and it will definitely benefit the sleep deprived adolescents. Furthermore, adolescents are growing up in a huge technological world, so make powerpoints, and use other tools that will "spark" their interest. Naps are always useful! During adolescence, hormones are changing rapidly! One of hormones is serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for allowing the human body to get tired and fall asleep. This hormone is in concurrence to blood flow and productivity. Serotonin increases during the day, and it decreases during the evening. However, it is known to start decreasing, also after food intake. Thus, for adolescents, this is normally around 12:00-1:00! At this time, the adolescents normally eat lunch, and their energy levels (serotonin) decrease. Yet, teachers continue their lesson plans, and the adolescents struggle to pay attention and remain active. A NAP MIGHT HELP! Talk to your advisor and see if a small nap session would be appropriate. If the advisor says NO, well, it never hurts to ask. . . (6). Other resources on how teachers can counteract sleep deprivation:

1. 2. 3.


*The charts below show a comparison between the total hours of sleep/per day different age brackets VS. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is where dreaming occurs, and it is documented as the period of sleep, where the most slumber occurs. By examining these charts, it is easy to see the total hours of sleep adolescents are Supposed to get (graph on the left), and the amount of REM sleep (graph on the right) do not mix very well. Adolescents undergo many changes throgh their development, and this graph exemplifies why sleep deprivation is an ongoing problem for today's students (2)!


SOURCES IN ORANGE ARE ESPECIALLY HELPFUL TO TEACHERS-these sources document and describe educational tools/methods proven to identify and counteract sleep deprivation.

1. "Adolescent Sleep." 05 October 1999. 15 October 2006. 2. Bybee, Rodger. "Teacher's Guide: Information About Sleep." 2003. 01 November 2006. 3. "For Who the School Bell Tolls." March 1999. 15 October 2006. 4. Graham, Mary G. Sleep Needs, Patterns, and Difficulties of Adolescents. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press, 1999. 5. Olson, Charlene. Personal Interview. 26 October 2006. 6. Pamela Hatcher, Respiratory Care Practitioner. Personal interview. 17 November 2006. 7. Santrock, John W. Adolescence. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2007. 8. Veeraraghavan, Harini. "Detection Fatigue Through the Use of Advanced Monitoring Techniques." September 2001. 15 October 2006.


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