Dr Anne Morse on Contributors to Impaired Sleep in Adolescents, Pandemic-Related Implications

Anne Marie Morse, DO, pediatric neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at Geisinger, discusses biologic, lifestyle, and pandemic-related factors associated with poor sleep quality in adolescents.

Poor sleep quality in adolescents can stem from a myriad of factors, including biologic delayed sleep phases and disruptions in the circadian rhythm potentially influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Anne Marie Morse, DO, pediatric neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at Geisinger.


Can you speak on factors contributing to impaired sleep among adolescents, and any pandemic-related issues?

The factors contributing to insufficient, poor-quality sleep are coming from so many different reasons. So, first of all for adolescents, they already are prone to having a difference in their sleep patterns just because of their biologic delayed sleep phase.

However, many times most adolescents have pathologic delayed sleep phases because of all of the things that they're engaged in. So, sometimes it has to do with school timing—by the time that they get home and do all their activities and homework, etc, there's only a few mere hours for them to be able to do something relaxing and enjoyable. So, many times they curtail their sleep in order to engage in those things.

Other times, it's just really poor sleep hygiene. They're doing everything in their bed, and so therefore, they start to mistake their bed as a place for wakefulness, rather than a place for sleep. So, I think that there's many things that have contributed.

In terms of COVID-19, we recognize that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on many people's sleep, not just their children and adolescents—so much so that they've even coined the term COVID-somnia.

So, our children haven't been protected against this, they also are experiencing this, and many times this is related to an increase in anxiety, the social distancing, or their fear of infection, etc. But also, because of the fact that everyone is at home all the time, we're seeing a lot more circadian disruption just because of the fact that there's not any of those external factors that we're normally exposed to, to help us keep track of our normal circadian rhythm.

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