Our teens today are getting less sleep than ever, I know, I teach them and it’s quite alarming how exhausted they are each day in school. Lack of attention, moodiness, and poor response times are only a few concerns a lack of rest can create in our young adults, and it’s important for their caregivers to understand the sleep they need to help foster.
Understanding how many hours of sleep teens really need, what can happen with a chronic loss of sleep, and how to help support a better rest is conducive to a healthier teenager. Below I’ve explained a bit about how much sleep a teen needs, and the reasons why this is so important.
How Many Hours of Sleep Do Teens Really Need?
Sleep is a critical body process that allows your body to move through various sleep stages. While this occurs your body temperature drops, respirations decline, and the heart rate slows. During this process the body enters into a process of healing and rejuvenating, and the brain is able to process and store memory.
This is especially important for developing bodies, and teenagers, despite their insistence they are adults- are not fully mentally or physically matured. These growth processes can be exhausting to the body and because of this teens need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep each night. Even though everybody is different, most teens need about 9.5 hours overall, and athletes may even need around an hour more.
Reasons Why Your Teen Might Not Be Getting Enough Sleep
As children move into puberty, their internal clock will shift about 2 hours and so going to bed later is normal. However, this is still within range of getting the proper amount of sleep if you are sticking to a sleep schedule.
There are some honest issues that may disrupt this schedule, such as a later return from athletics, worry or stress over upcoming exams, or challenging homework. Also, many teens begin to work part-time, and so it is important to learn careful time management in order to physically be able to handle new lifestyle changes.
Losing some sleep every now and then is normal, but it can add up over time, so it is important to get this sleep back. Unfortunately, many teens have many other disruptions to their schedule that they have control over, but may not always make good decisions about. This includes unrestricted screen time, video games, and cell phones- which not only keeps them awake, but also disrupts normal sleep hormone release. Staying out too late with friends, or being distracted by television and music can also be an issue. Even though a teen may fall asleep with tv or music on, the brain will continue to process the sound and not be able to rest as it should.
The Problems That Occur When Your Teen Isn’t Getting Enough Sleep
There is a long list of issues that occur when your teen isn’t getting enough sleep. Just imagine your own issues when you are particularly tired, and multiply it.
Poor academic performance, problem-solving issues, lack of focus, and an inability to think clearly are all indicators of poor sleep. These can cause even larger issues, such as problems at home and socially as well.
Behavioral and Emotional Issues
Teenagers are already moody, but teens become even more irritable, may have problems controlling their emotions, and even show signs of depression.
Athletes will struggle with their own energy when sleep-deprived, but the biggest worry is the effects it can have on driving. Teens are already new to the skill, and being tired can make their own mistakes more pronounced.
Benefits of Proper Sleep
Long term sleep loss can even begin to wear on internal organs function over time, so it is important to help teens get the rest they deserve. With proper sleep they will have the energy to get through the day, problem solve and stay alert, and better regulate and respond appropriately to their own changing body and emotional states.
How To Help Your Teen Get Enough Sleep
It really is important for parents and caregivers of teenagers to help foster a good night’s sleep. Many teens are unable to regulate this themselves due to their own stages of development, and it is important to teach them this during their own growing independence. Some good tips to consider to help a teen get enough sleep include:
- Keeping to a Sleep Schedule
- Avoid Oversleeping on the Weekend
- Encourage Early Afternoon Naps (when feasible)
- Turn off all Screens At Least 1 Hour Before Bedtime
- Avoid caffeine later in the afternoon, as well as tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
Getting the proper amount of sleep each night is important for everyone, not just teenagers. But teens are still developing and so it is especially important they get the rest they need for both mental and physical growth. These are also important academic years, and so providing them the best support they can get for paying attention and problem solving so they can build skills for their future is crucial.
Work towards keeping a healthy sleep schedule to help your teen get at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. And help influence good habits while they are still around to encourage useful skills for later in life.