Keys to Mental Health 2: Sleep


One of the major changes that takes place during the 'teen years' is related to changes in sleep patterns, which happens because the brain’s circadian system (biological clock) changes. These sleep pattern changes are due to a complex interaction between genetically determined brain development and the impact of the environment. During adolescence, the usual childhood pattern of 'go to bed early and get up early' changes, to a 'go to bed late and get up late' pattern. This natural change in circadian rhythm is accentuated by our environment. With TV, on and offline social interaction (social networks or hanging out with friends), youth are often up late. These factors all come together to set a new go-to-sleep-late and wake-up-late cycle. In this activity, you will watch a video about teen sleeping habits, and share your thoughts and opinions on the class discussion board. You will also keep a sleep diary and reflect on the results in groups.


1. Check out this PowerPoint presentation on why teens need their sleep.

2. Watch
The Teenage Brain PBS video chapter 5 from minute 8:23-10:46, which addresses later start times for schools.

3. Post your thoughts in the thread for this assignment in Class Discussions. Do you think classes should start later? Why or why not? Would you lose out on anything if classes started later? Do you think it would make a difference to your level of concentration? What effect does lack of sleep have on your learning? Be sure to select the appropriate assignment from the pulldown menu at the bottom of your submission.

4. Keep a sleep diary for a week. What time did you go to sleep, what time did you wake up? At what point in the day were you the most tired?

5. In groups of 4 or 5, share your results with your classmates. What was the average number of hours of sleep your group logged per night? Discuss strategies to help you you fall asleep, and get more overall sleep through the week.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn about the changes that occur in the brain during adolescence, and how that contributes to changes in sleep patterns
  • Be more aware of your own sleeping habits, and how these habits impact your daily functioning
  • Understand the importance of sleep to the maintenance of mental health and effective learning

    Continue to Keys to Mental Health 3: Ingredients for Mental Health »