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Patrol ZZZZZ What are your Scouts losing when they’re snoozing?

IT’S 8 A.M. ON A SATURDAY, and you’re not a happy camper. Although the members of the new-Scout patrol have been up and active since dawn, the senior patrol leader and half the patrol leaders are still fast asleep in their tents. The camporee competi- tions start in just an hour, so breakfast is looking doubtful—at best. You’re frustrated but not surprised.

The older Scouts stayed up talking half the night despite your best efforts to settle them down. What’s going on? It’s all a question

of biology, says Dr. Louise O’Brien, a research scientist who focuses on sleep issues in children at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center. “There’s a biological reason why they

can’t fall asleep early and why they struggle to get up in the morning,” she says.

During puberty, young people’s

bodies start secreting a sleep-related hormone called melatonin at a dif- ferent time than usual, radically altering their sleeping patterns. The result is a delayed sleep phase that lasts through—and often beyond—adolescence. Regardless of when they fall asleep, adolescents need nine hours and 15 minutes of sleep per night, O’Brien says, while children need 10 to 11 hours. As an adult, by the way, you need a little more than eight hours. Most kids aren’t getting the sleep they need. According to a 2006 poll by

the National Sleep Foundation, only 20 percent of adolescents get enough sleep, while nearly half sleep fewer than eight hours a night. High-school seniors run the largest sleep deficit, averaging 6.9 hours. That’s the equiva- lent of pulling an all-nighter—and then some—every week. The symptoms of sleepiness vary

by age. Children “tend to get more hyperactive,” O’Brien says. “That’s their way of manifesting sleepiness.” Adolescents, on the other hand, have trouble focusing on tasks and often become moody or depressed. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation poll found that three-quarters of teens who say they’re unhappy or tense aren’t getting enough sleep. An obvious solution to your

problem, then, would be to let Scouts sleep as long as they want. But that would be difficult in a camporee setting. Moreover, sleeping until noon on weekends can actually be counter- productive. “The recommendation is that the sleep schedule be maintained from the weekday to the weekend,” O’Brien says. While it can help to start the day’s

activities a little later, the night before is just as important. What Scouts do before bedtime affects how quickly they fall asleep. For example, sitting around the campfire is probably a better idea than playing a round of capture the flag or flashlight tag. “It’s very hard for kids to go from doing something quite strenuous to being told to go to their tents and lie down,”

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