Saturday, July 26, 2008

How much sleep do we need?

or how do I get my teenager up for work on a summer morn'?

Generally he gets his own darn self up, but this a.m. was an early start, and early start and summer and teenager are not necessarily part of the same sentence. When I first woke him up, it was clear that no one was home behind his eyes. After I poured water on his head, it was clear that an angry but wakeful human had taken charge.

Here are some observations from a recent article in ScienceNOW Daily News(1) about how much sleep animals need in the wild and why that may or may not apply to humans and the subset of humans known as teenagers:

  1. "Animals sleep less if they need to graze extensively--as with herds of horses." This is a tough one, he already grazes extensively. The problem must be, however, that if all the right there in the 'frig, he doesn't need to spend much time doing so. Note to self: Empty out 'frig.

  2. "Animals that sleep in groups, such as herds of grazing animals, get less sleep than species that live alone." Scientists theorize that this is based more in eating habits of herd animals rather than the herdiness of it all. M. certainly has quite a sociable herd to graze with, but, again, the good grazing is apparently too close at hand.

Perhaps when he moseys back down the road to school, no more 'summertime, and the grazing is easy. This kid has a 9 a.m. class this fall; I hope the living is lean and dangerous at school. Or maybe not...


Dr. Smak said...

*wishing I had a better memory*

The studies showing the differences between teenager and adult sleep cycles are fascinating. The one I remember most was school based, where they system elected to start school 2 hours later than usual. Test scores went up and teachers reported kids were actually awake for the first period.

But studies don't help so much when it's time to get them up for work.

Mauigirl said...

Back when I was a teen (and even through the college years) I could easily sleep till noon or 1 p.m. Now I wake up at 9:30 at the latest no matter how late I was up the night before.

I think I get less sleep because I'm part of a herd...or maybe it should be called a pack. Me, husband and dog in one queen size bed = poor sleep!

Ruth said...

My youngest daughter has been a night owl since birth and her natural cycle is bed at 2-3AM and up at noon. If she has to get up earlier (school, work) I often find her snoozing at dinner time. I am very opposite and that has been quite trying in our relationship at times. Her older sisters were "normal" but now one works 12 shifts as an RN, 2 days, 2 nights, five days off. Talk about sleep problems!