May 6, 2010
While most teens seem tired, a study found that their exposure and timing to morning light alters their body’s natural nighttime sleep cycle.
Lack of exposure to blue morning light combined with getting A.M. rays at the wrong time can lead to nighttime sleep issues in teens, a group already running low on zzz’s. Adequate exposure to blue light (morning light) may however, reset natural sleep cycles.
Teen Circadian Rhythm Disrupted By Light Issues
Teenagers have almost become cave dwellers, spending less time in the sunlight than ever before. And for many, this means having a hard time falling asleep at night.
Insufficient morning light and exposure at the wrong time of day confuses the body’s internal alarm clock. In response, the brain can’t stimulate its 24-hour biological system, a natural rhythm designed to modulate the sleep/wake cycle. And in teens, a group already inclined to stay up too late, when their internal body clock gets out of sync, even when they are ready to call it a night, sleep may not come so easily.
“These morning-light-deprived teenagers are going to bed later, getting less sleep and possibly under-performing on standardized tests. We are starting to call this the teenage night owl syndrome,” says Mariana Figueiro, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Program Director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center (LRC) and lead researcher on the new study.