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J Fam Health Care. 2009;19(2):51-3.

Sleep disorders in general and in adolescence.

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  • 1University of Oxford.


Sleep disorders are common, affecting about one-third of all people, and can cause depression, impaired performance at school, college or work, and interfere with the quality of life and relationships. Despite the large amount now known about sleep problems, health professionals are still insufficiently trained in preventing, assessing and treating sleep disorders. Changes at puberty halt the previous steady reduction of sleep during childhood. Adolescence may bring particular sleep problems such as delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS), which is common in teenagers. Late-night social or other activities make it physiologically impossible to get to sleep, leading to insufficient sleep and sleep debt which, if unrecognised or incorrectly diagnosed and left untreated, may cause daytime sleepiness and underfunctioning. General practitioners, health visitors and school nurses can help by being better informed about sleep disorders, their identification and treatment, and being ready to refer complex problems to specialist centres.

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