01 May 2012

Teen sleepAn international expert in teenage sleep will give a free public lecture at the University of South Australia this week. 
Professor Mary Carskadon, who is renowned for her research into the impact of insufficient sleep in adolescents, will present the lecture titled ‘Teen sleep: too little and too late’ for UniSA’s Centre for Sleep Research on Thursday evening (May 3) at UniSA’s City West Campus.
Prof Carskadon, who is Director of Chronobiology/Sleep Research at the EP Bradley Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behaviour at Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, says most teenagers sleep considerably less than they need and that many get one or two hours under the optimal sleep on school nights.
“Teens without adequate sleep are quite sleepy for much of every day. They are inattentive and have trouble regulating their behaviour and emotions; they also struggle to learn and fail to benefit from sleep’s memory consolidating effects,” she says.
“Longer term, these sleep-deprived teens may have metabolic regulation problems, eat too much, exercise too little, and may as a result suffer from overweight, obesity, and even possibly Type 2 diabetes. Depression has also been related to long-term insufficient sleep.”
Prof Carskadon says the effects of technology are associated with the erosion of sleep across society. She says limiting technology in the evenings is one way to encourage better teen sleep habits.
“Interventions that target less evening technology and light, limiting caffeine, more parental limit-setting and giving students more information about sleep can be effective,” she says.
“Insufficient sleep is a substantial public health problem in youth – and in adults as well. It will take vigorous and sustained efforts to have significant long-term impact.”
Prof Carskadon says an important message in her lecture will be that sleep is not a disposable commodity. 
“We need to pay attention to sleep and plan for it in promoting a healthy lifestyle,” she says.
“The length and timing of sleep is regulated biologically and behaviourally; all of these factors change during adolescent development. During my lecture I will try to explain the biological processes and how they change and then identify how they fit within the framework of modern society.”
UniSA’s Head of the School of Psychology, Social Work and Social PolicyProfessor Kurt Lushington says the university is delighted to have secured Prof Carskadon for the free public lecture.
“This public lecture is an exclusive opportunity to hear from a leader in the field of sleep research and learn about her latest findings of her research,” he says.
“The information provided in this lecture will be useful for parents, teachers, health care practitioners and the general community.”
Prof Carskadon’s lecture will be held on Thursday May 3 at 6pm in the Bradley Forum in the Hawke Building at UniSA’s City West Campus. To register for the lecture go to www.unisa.edu.au/sleep/lecture

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