Wednesday, March 22, 2006 - Health Journal - Health Journal: "Staying up late and sleeping until noon usually seems like normal teenage behavior.

But there's increasing concern among doctors that many teens may actually be suffering from a little-known sleep disorder. The problem, called delayed sleep phase syndrome, isn't well known and is often underdiagnosed, but it may afflict anywhere from 360,000 to several million teens and young adults, according to a 2004 review article in the medical journal Sleep. One of the gravest concerns, researchers say, is that it is often misdiagnosed as attention deficit disorder, depression or a behavioral problem that is treated with prescription drugs. The sleep disorder, however, can usually be treated without drugs.

DSPS is believed to be the result of the body's internal clock -- called the circadian system -- getting stuck in the wrong place, causing kids to stay up late. As kids enter puberty, circadian rhythms that affect sleep begin to change, which is why most kids' bedtimes shift about an hour later as they get older. But for reasons no one understands, some kids experience more dramatic changes as their internal clocks shift forward too far. Those kids can't fall asleep until the early hours of the morning, but still have to get up early for school, so they have to get by on just a few hours of sleep each night."
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