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How Much Sleep Does A Teenager Need?

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The transition from childhood to adulthood is marked by significant changes in a child’s life. The hormonal changes affect their physical, mental, and emotional development and can also lead to sleep deprivation and other sleep problems.

In this post, we discuss the importance of sleep on teens and the reasons that affect their sleep. We also give you a few tips on how to help teens sleep better.

Is It Normal For Teenagers To Sleep Late?

As a child reaches adolescence, the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) undergoes a biological shift of about two hours, meaning the child who usually sleeps at 9 PM will now sleep at 11 PM.

The production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, takes more time in teenagers than adults, and teens experience sleep drives a bit later than adults. Hence, it is normal for teenagers to sleep late.

This change in circadian rhythm can be further heightened by the teen’s environment and behavior – if this is the case, you should step in. For instance, exposure to bright lights at night, electronic and social stimulation, and late-night social gatherings on the weekends can affect the teen’s bedtime routine and make them sleep late (1) (2) (3).

Recommended Sleeping hours for Teens

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that teens get about eight to ten hours of sleep per day (4).

Why Is Sleep Important For Teens?

Teens need to get enough sleep as they experience growth spurts and a second developmental stage of cognitive maturation (5). A teen’s body undergoes constant change, which causes stress on the body and mind. Sleep allows the body and mind to recharge. Getting adequate sleep helps support a teen’s developing brain and physical growth spurts and helps improve their physical and mental well-being.

Impact Of Sleep On The Growth And Development Of Teens

Sleep plays a vital role in every aspect of a teen’s life. It impacts their physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being as well as their body responses. Let’s discuss this in detail.

  1. Emotional and mental development: Sleep improves memory, attentiveness, rational thinking, learning, creativity, and decision making, which translates to improved grades at school. Sleep deprivation can cause poor concentration, irritated mood, and emotional instability in teens. Without sleep, the mind slows down, affecting all the body systems.

Sleeplessness is related to anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, exaggerated emotional reactions, insomnia, mood swings, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and psychiatric disorders. Sleep directly affects the emotional health and psychological state of a teen, and chronic sleep deprivation is known to trigger negative thinking and emotional vulnerability (6) (7) (8) (9).

  1. Physical health: A deep sleep boosts immunity, helping heal and repair the body, including vital organs, such as the heart and brain. Sleep deficiency is linked to heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and decreased immunity in teens. Sleep also helps maintain the hormonal balance and hormonal reactions of the body. Thus, insufficient sleep can lead to various health problems (9) (10) (11).
  1. Social well-being: A good mood helps in maintaining healthy relationships. Sleep deprivation can affect the teen’s mood and make them irritated, depressed, and angry, which can further impact social and familial relationships (12) (13).
  1. Body responses: Sleep-deprivation is closely linked to driving accidents and narcolepsy (characterized by excessive sleepiness). The body’s reactions slow down due to sleep deprivation, leading to appetite changes, drowsy driving, and sleep-walking. Sleep-deprived body responses can make an adolescent grow up to be an unhealthy adult (10) (14) (15) (16).

Why Is It Hard For Teens To Get The Recommended Good Sleep?

Sleep deprivation is a common problem in teenagers. The following are some reasons teens are unable to get the recommended sound sleep. These factors could vary in different teenagers (16) (17) (18).

  1. Biological shift of the body’s internal clock
  2. Increased screen time
  3. Notifications and light from mobile phone near the bed
  4. Extracurricular activities and after-school classes
  5. Early or late school, college, and tuition timings
  6. Scool-related stress
  7. Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome
  8. Over tiredness
  9. Depression and stress
  10. New relationships and day-dreaming
  11. Attending late-night social events
  12. Consuming energy and caffeinated drinks
  13. Uneasiness and discomfort from illness

Tips To Help Teens Sleep Better

Teenagers need to make changes to their lifestyle, make healthy choices, and manage stress. Parents and caretakers should encourage teens to sleep for the recommended sleep hours. The following are some tips to improve sleep in teenagers (19) (20) (21) (22).

  1. Have a pre-bedtime routine to help relax and create a sleep-friendly environment.
  1. Set a bedtime schedule.
  1. Do not consume caffeine and energy drinks in the afternoon and evening.
  1. Avoid excessive sleeping on weekends.
  1. Keep the mobile phones away from the bed.
  1. Do not use any electronic devices an hour before bed.
  1. Set up the bed with a supportive mattress and pillows.
  1. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet.
  1. Do not smoke and consume alcohol.
  1. Eat healthy in the evening.
  1. Do not study late at night.
  1. Avoid high-carb snacks before bedtime.
  1. Organize things before bedtime to avoid waking up early for those chores.
  1. Take a hot bath before bed.
  1. Practice meditation before bed.
  1. Eat sufficient food in the evening to avoid overeating at dinner.
  1. Do not exercise three hours before bedtime, as it will make the body more attentive.
  1. Open the windows and curtains quickly after waking up.
  1. Use the bed only for sleeping.
  1. Take a short afternoon nap (15 minutes).
  1. Aromatherapy using scents such as lavender, chamomile, cherry blossom, marjoram, and orange blossom can help the teen fall asleep faster.
  1. Have breakfast outdoors. This will help regulate the body’s biological clock.
  1. Listen to soft music before bed.
  1. Consult a doctor for any sleep disorders.
  1. Ask the school or college authorities to adjust the timings according to the sleep patterns of teenagers.

Maintaining a healthy and friendly environment at home will help your teen open up to you and discuss any sleep-related matter with you. Generally, sleep deprivation can be mitigated by making a few small changes to your teen’s daily routine. Set good examples, and encourage your teen to give priority to their sleep.

References:

MomJunction's health articles are written after analyzing various scientific reports and assertions from expert authors and institutions. Our references (citations) consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Circadian Rhythm; Sleep Foundation
2. Sleep in Adolescents; Nationwide Children’s Hospital
3. Sleep and the Teenage Brain; Brain Pickings
4. Sleep and Health; CDC
5. Teenagers and Sleep: How Much Sleep Is Enough?; Johns Hopkins Hospitals
6. Sleep deprivation may be undermining teen health; American Psychological Association
7. Sleep and Mental Health: Why Our Brains Need Sleep; Primary Care Collaborative
8. Sleep and mental health; Harvard Health Publishing
9. Mood and Sleep; BetterHealth
10. Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
11. Sleep and Health; Harvard Medical School
12. Rest Up: Sleep Powers Your Social Life; Johns Hopkins Hospitals
13. The Importance of Good Sleep Habits For Teens; Boys Town Pediatrics
14. Sleep; Mental Health Foundation
15. How Many Hours of Sleep Do Teens Really Need?; Sleep Advisor
16. Sleep Deprivation: The Effects On Mind And Body; Mental Health America
17. Teenagers and sleep; BetterHealth
18. Sleep and Teens; UCLA Health
19. How to Help Teenagers Get More Sleep; Child Mind Institute
20. 10 Proven Tips To Make Your Sleep Deprived Teen Sleep Better;; The Community for Sleep-Care Professionals
21. Sleep in Adolescents; Nationwide Children’s Hospital
22. Lack of Sleep and Teen Brain Development; Family Psychology Associates

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