Did you know that less than 9% of teens get enough sleep? It’s no wonder they trudge around like moody zombies! Jokes aside, lack of quality sleep among adolescents is a serious problem. Sleep is essential for regulating our moods, appetite and cognitive function. Because the teenage brain is not yet fully developed, teens are especially susceptible to the adverse effects of sleep deprivation.
It is estimated that teenagers need between nine and ten hours of sleep per night. However, most teens only get around seven to eight hours. Some common obstacles for sleep among teens include technology use, excessive caffeine intake, early school start times and heavy homework loads on top of sports and extracurriculars. Furthermore, stress over exams, college admissions and social life can keep many a troubled teen up at night.
Why exactly is it so important for teens to get enough sleep?
Studies show that sleep deprivation is a risk factor for anxiety and depression in teenagers. As we all know, adolescents are already naturally more prone to mental health issues. Throw some sleep deprivation into the mix and you’ve got yourself one angsty and unhappy teenager. But emotional disturbances among teens are nothing to be scoffed at. Getting enough quality sleep can help teens navigate this tricky phase of their life.
Sleep-deprived teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use. As if that’s not bad enough, don’t forget that teens are just learning how to drive. Without adequate sleep, teens are more likely to speed or drive under the influence. Even if they’re not driving illegally, a drowsy teen behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster.
Is your teen falling asleep during first period? Sadly, it’s more common than you may think. Lack of sleep causes us all to feel groggy and unfocused in the morning. For high schoolers, this is especially problematic. Not only do they struggle to stay awake, they also have trouble retaining and analyzing information. As a result, sleep deprivation can negatively impact teens’ academic performance. The effect is even worse for seniors, who are also juggling the college admissions process on top of everything else.
For these and other reasons, it’s essential that teenagers get an adequate amount of quality sleep. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just sleeping for nine hours; the quality of our sleep varies at different times of the night. The deep sleep phase that takes place between 10pm and 3am is more beneficial to our health than the lighter sleep phase between 3am and 7am. Therefore, teens that are up into the wee hours doing homework (or scrolling Instagram) are missing out on quality sleep, even if they sleep in the next morning.
So how can teens improve the duration and quality of their sleep? There’s no easy answer, but certain behavioral modifications can help. For one, teens should aim to get up at the same time every day in order to regularize their internal clock. They should also try to get in bed by 10pm so they can benefit from deep sleep. Falling asleep at an earlier time is difficult at first, but over time they will adjust. It helps to limit caffeine intake in the afternoon and unplug from electronics at least a half hour before bed.