Updated at: 27-04-2022 - By: Jane Brody

A lot of eens enjoy claiming to be “night owls” and exchanging stories of all-nighters and sleeping through the weekend. Although parents may find teens’ sleep habits annoying, they’re a result of the bodily changes that take place during puberty. Dr. Laura Sterni, the sleep expert at Johns Hopkins, explains that the circadian rhythm of teens naturally changes as they get older. They have a harder time falling asleep before 11 p.m. because of this. Teens often suffer from sleep deprivation as a result of early school start times, an increase in homework and extracurricular activities, and even a part-time job. But Sterni stresses that parents should help their kids get the sleep they need, because this age group need more sleep than we might think.

Facts About Teens and Sleep

When children go from childhood to adolescence, their biological clocks change. Approximately two hours are added to a child’s daily waking time once puberty occurs. It’s not uncommon for pre-teens who were routinely ushered to bed at nine o’clock to resist going to sleep until approximately eleven.

How Much Sleep Do Teenagers Need? Why Do They Stay Up Late?

Unless they can sleep until eight o’clock in the morning, they won’t feel rested because of this biological transition. It’s understandable that American teenagers are suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, given that this is the country’s typical school start time.

Why Teens Need More Sleep Than Younger Kids

So, how many hours of sleep every night is considered adequate? A teen’s sleep requirement has increased by around an hour since they were 10, according to Johns Hopkins physician Michael Crocetti, M.D., M.P.H. Why? According to Crocetti, teenagers are going through a second stage of cognitive growth. An extra hour of sleep is beneficial for a child’s growing brain and body. There’s also less risk of depression or substance abuse (for more information, see “The Price of Sleep Deprivation in Teens” further below).

Why Don’t Teens Get Enough Sleep?

When it comes to staying up late, oversleeping for school, and falling asleep in class, teenagers have a reputation for being sluggish. The sleep patterns of teenagers, on the other hand, are very different from those of adults or younger children.

The circadian rhythm (the body’s internal biological clock) is reset during adolescence, causing an individual to sleep and wake up later. Due to melatonin’s release earlier in the night for teens, it is possible that this shift has occurred. As a result, it may be more difficult for teenagers to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.

Circadian rhythm shifts occur when life gets hectic. It’s more difficult for most teens to get by in school without putting in a lot of effort. Teenagers often have a variety of other responsibilities, from sports and other extracurricular activities to holding a part-time job. There are numerous studies that show that using electronic devices (such as cellphones and computers) interferes with one’s ability to fall asleep. Teenagers often stay up late texting, gaming, or watching videos.

In addition to school start times that are too early, other factors contribute to a lack of quality shut-eye. Teens who fall asleep after midnight still have to get up early for school, which means they may only receive a total of six or seven hours of sleep per night, or less. Sleep deprivation can build up over time, even with just a few hours of sleep a night lost.

Why Is Sleep Important?

To perform at your best, you require a sufficient amount of sleep. teens need a good night’s sleep for the following reasons

  • to school, to pay attention, and to learn
  • raise the level of one’s athletic ability
  • in the natural course of things
  • maintain a healthy lifestyle

Drowsy driving and low grades are just a few of the consequences of not getting enough shut-eye. Getting sleepy behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster.

Those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation may have the following symptoms:

  • conditions such as coronary heart disease and excess weight
  • infection-fighting difficulties
  • Depression and other mental health issues

How much sleep do you really need? (S1) | The Power of Good Health - YouTube

Am I Getting Enough Sleep?

In spite of your best efforts, you may not be getting the rest you need. If any of the following apply to you:

  • I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
  • find it difficult to concentrate
  • are snoozing in the classroom
  • irritability, moodiness, sadness, or depression

How do I know if I’m getting enough sleep?

The following are indications that you need more sleep:

  • finding it tough to get out of bed in the morning
  • a hard time focusing during the day
  • snoozing through lectures and
  • feeling down in the dumps

Causes of teenage sleep deprivation

The following are some of the most common causes of sleep deprivation among teenagers:

  • Adolescent hormones move the biological clock of a teenager by one or two hours, making them sleepier one to two hours later, causing a hormonal time shift. However, early school beginnings prevent teenagers from sleeping in even if they go to bed later. Chronic sleep deprivation results as a result of this nightly “sleep debt”
  • Smartphones, tablet computers, and other gadgets with screens that are used near bedtime can disrupt a person’s ability to fall asleep. According to a research by the Sleep Health Foundation and Vic Health, teens who put down their smartphones an hour before bed gain an additional 21 minutes of sleep per night (that’s an hour and 45 minutes over the course of the school week).
  • a teen’s rigorous after-school routine, including homework, sports, part-time work, and social obligations, might eat into their sleep time
  • Entertainment options like television, the internet, and video games might entice teens to stay out of bed later than they otherwise would.
  • Exposure to light — light tells the brain to stay awake. The brain chemical (neurotransmitter) melatonin, which is important for sleep, can be inhibited in the evening by light from electronic devices like televisions, cell phones, and laptops.
  • The vicious cycle of a teenager’s brain being more active due to lack of sleep is well-known. Sleep is harder to come by if your brain is overworked.
  • Westerners place a higher emphasis on physical activity than sleep.
  • sleep apnoea or restless legs syndrome can influence the amount of sleep a teenager gets, as can other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea.

Effects of teenage sleep deprivation

A teenager’s developing brain need between eight and ten hours of sleep each night to function at its best. Constant sleep deprivation can cause a variety of health problems, including:

  • inability to maintain focus
  • drifting off in the middle of class
  • a shorter capacity for sustained concentration
  • deterioration in short-term memory
  • making the wrong choices
  • lack of fervor
  • irritability and hostility
  • depression
  • recklessness in one’s approach to life
  • physical sluggishness
  • Injuries that may be caused by clumsiness
  • a decline in one’s athletic ability
  • deterioration of academic standing
  • more days missed from school due to illness or exhaustion
  • truancy.

Teenagers and Sleep: Help Them Get What They Need

Parenting advice from Sterni and Crocetti is to treat teenagers and their sleep as seriously as possible. Model appropriate sleep habits, such as going to bed at the same time each night, refraining from drinking coffee before bed, and exercising regularly. Teen-specific and time-tested advice is also offered.

Make an appointment with your doctor. When it comes to educating teenagers on how much sleep they need, recommending healthy sleep habits, and screening for common teen sleep problems, pediatricians can do it.

Enjoy a sunny start to your day. Breakfast eaten in the fresh air or in front of a bright window can help teens better regulate their circadian rhythms, making it simpler for them to wake up and go to sleep in the morning.

Aim to strengthen the relationship. Ask your adolescent, after he or she has slept well, how he or she felt the day of the test or game. Help him recognize that sleep improves his attitude, and help him realize how much sleep is sufficient for him to feel rested.

Car rights should be linked to sound rest. Teenagers who are sleep deprived are more likely to have an accident than their peers. As a parent, Crocetti tells his teen son that he can’t drive him to school in the morning if he isn’t getting enough sleep.

Help adolescents reassess their schedules. Help your kid locate an earlier time to start schoolwork if he usually does it after nightly activities. A hectic schedule may need a reduction in responsibilities.

Encourage naps in the afternoon. Before dinner, sleep-deprived teenagers may benefit from a 30-45-minute power nap. If you’re dealing with sleep deprivation in teenagers, this is a better solution than sleeping in.

Ban electronic devices in the room. At night, youths are exposed to a light that suppresses the production of the sleep-inducing melatonin hormone, making it more difficult for them to fall asleep.

Schools should be encouraged to implement later start times. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that schools begin classes at 8:30 a.m., and this is something that many middle and high schools are looking into. Make an appointment with your local school board to discuss this matter.

Watch the seasons change. Summer is a great time for teenagers to experiment with a new sleep routine. Maintaining the same bedtime schedule as during the school year is important, says Sterni. Adolescents whose schedules undergo considerable changes may have difficulty returning to a regular school sleep schedule and may exhibit symptoms like moodiness and excessive daytime sleepiness when school begins. Sleep specialists may be necessary for those who have seen major adjustments in their sleep patterns in September.

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See your doctor if you:

  • despite following the advice in this document, I still have difficulty sleeping at night.
  • I can’t get back to sleep after waking up at night or in the early hours of the morning.
  • despite getting enough sleep, you’re still exhausted.
  • are unable to meet your obligations, such as not being able to attend school, arrive to work on time, or spend time with friends.
  • Sadness is a constant companion in my life.
  • have a hard time concentrating on anything else because you’re scared.
  • People who are frequently ill in other ways (such as having a bad day at work or not eating well) are more likely to be diagnosed as having a mental illness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should adolescents sleep more if they are involved in athletics?

Sleeping an extra hour each night has been shown to help athletes break their personal records and perform at the highest level.

Why does my teenager like to sleep in on the weekends?

Most of us, even as adults, are still guilty of the same transgressions. Because of our hectic weekday schedule, we only get about an hour or so of sleep a night. Then, by the time the weekend rolls around, we’re all worn out and ready to crash.

The trouble with this is that it causes your adolescent’s circadian rhythm to be thrown off. It’s more difficult for them to get to sleep on Sunday night if they stay up late on the weekends. They’ll be unable to get out of bed on Monday morning since they’ll have stayed up too late the night before. It’s a never-ending circle.

Is it normal for them to stay up so late?

As a result of this trend, medical professionals and policymakers are debating whether to move school start times later in the morning to better accommodate teens’ nocturnal habits.

You may need to help them relax before bed to promote sleep if they’re physically struggling and not just being argumentative. As an illustration, if they express a desire for some alone time, suggest that they cuddle up with a book before going to bed.

It’s also critical to set up your teen’s room so that he or she can unwind. Make sure that there are no bright lights coming in from outside, ban smartphones before night, and consider a white noise machine to assist lull them to sleep.

You should minimize your teen’s usage of electronic devices in the hours leading up to bedtime, as this is the most common culprit.

What can they do if they struggle to fall asleep?

You may need to help them relax before bed to promote sleep if they’re physically struggling and not just being argumentative. As an illustration, if they express a desire for some alone time, suggest that they cuddle up with a book before going to bed.

It’s also critical to set up your teen’s room so that he or she can unwind. A white noise machine can help your child fall asleep, so make sure there are no bright lights coming in from the outside.

You should minimize your teen’s usage of electronic devices in the hours leading up to bedtime, as this is the most common culprit.

Is it normal for an adolescent to sleep walk?

Sleepwalking can be a side effect of some drugs. Look at the package insert for any side effects and ask your doctor if the medication is to blame for the problem behavior of your teen.

Conclusion

Find out if your child’s school is already on board with a later start time and how you can get engaged in making that legislative change.

It’s only a matter of time before your teen leaves the home and heads to college or the workforce. A healthy lifestyle now will help them be more successful in the future.

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