Knuckles scraping the floor, a hoodie pulled over the face to conceal embarrassment, an inability to rise before two in the afternoon.
Teenagers are associated with the worst of human behaviours – sloth, rudeness and excessiverisk-taking.
But new research reveals that it might not be their fault.Academics at the University of Oxford believe there are biological reasons why people aged from 10 to 20 need to stay in bed for longer than the rest of us.Boys and girls are pumped full of sex hormones, clouding their judgement, and this has associated psychological effects. We often forget about that.” These “old folks” also have to deal with the fact that their little princes and princesses might soon fly the nest.“It is a time when someone is moving from childhood to adulthood and that throws up a lot of big issues,” says Andrew. There are lots of stresses for them – it’s an important time educationally,” she continues. Physiologically, little is known about why the teenagers are behaving like this – no brain imaging study has been carried out in the area.“They move away from being solely dependent on their parents and place a greater reliance on their friends.” This also means that they begin to identify themselves with the values of their peers, which will be different to those of their family. Love of loud music Andrew says teenagers will often turn up loud music to help them forget about the stresses they may be undergoing during their day-to-day lives.
“Whether or not you believe they hear things differently – and thus have a varied capacity to absorb noise – depends on who you talk to.
He even suggests that delaying the start of school by an hour or two would lead to a massive spurt in teenage productivity.
The reasons for this shift in body clock are unknown. “If sleep is important for memory and learning, dealing with emotions, and repair and recuperation, then teenage years have an awful lot of all that.
That might explain the increased need for sleep, but it doesn’t explain the change in timing of sleep,” says Neil Stanley, a sleep researcher at the University of East Anglia.
Jim Horne, director of Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre thinks it is not just teenage body clocks that are unusual.
“It all comes down to the relative sizes of different parts of younger people’s brains: with teenagers there is a mismatch in development.” She adds that the parts of the brain that control emotion and reward – the section of your head that will tell you, say, to “drive that car really fast” – develops quicker than other areas in young ’uns.