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Image of boy sleeping

Adolescence is a developmental stage that may be particularly vulnerable to poor sleep. Sleep patterns change in adolescence. This is demonstrated by the timing and duration of sleep: adolescent sleep is characteristically delayed, variable and short. These changes are associated with internal and external factors. The bioregulation of sleep undergoes modification, with alterations in the circadian timing system and the sleep/wake homeostatic system. This means that adolescents feel less pressure to sleep earlier at night and prefer to go to bed later and wake later. Psychosocial and environmental factors also contribute to shortened sleep. We know that sleep is related to physical and mental health as well as our behavioural, cognitive and academic performance.

The adolescent sleep group is interested in understanding how best to raise the importance of sleep and improve sleep habits and behaviours. We focused on school-based sleep education in the Teensleep Study. This large pilot study, while encouraging, reflected previous research suggesting that sleep-education programmes are typically more successful at increasing sleep knowledge than changing sleep behaviours. Accordingly, we aim to understand the barriers and facilitators regarding sleep by working with schools, teachers, parents/caregivers and students themselves to increase the effectiveness of sleep education. We are currently working with survey data to evaluate self-reported sleep and associated factors at different ages as well as qualitative data from focus groups to find out what young people say about their own sleep.

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