Sleep deprivation is a major issue with today’s teenagers. The National Sleep Foundation reports that teens ages ten to seventeen need between 8½ and 9¼ hours of sleep each night, to maintain optimal alertness and performance. A study at Drexel University found that of students aged twelve to eighteen, only 20 percent are getting at least 8½ hours of sleep on an average school night. That’s a staggering amount of teenagers who aren’t getting enough sleep!
Teens have reported that they suffer from irregular sleep patterns. Typically, they are staying up too late on school nights—most not going to bed before eleven—and sleeping in later on the weekends. This has a major effect on their biological clocks, and it causes issues in the quality of their sleep, overall.
Studies have also shown that staying awake for seventeen to nineteen hours straight significantly impacts performance, more than a blood alcohol level of .05 percent. An entire day of continuous wakefulness (a twenty-four hour period) induces impairments equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent. That is beyond the legal limit of alcohol intoxication for driving in the United States.
Aggression, Impatience, Moodiness—OH MY!
There are major consequences when our sleep tanks are running on fumes. A recent article published by the Washington Post stated that “sleep deprivation can affect mood, performance, attention, learning, behavior and biological functions.” CNN Health also reported that a study from the Mayo Clinic found that “daytime sleepiness makes it difficult to concentrate and learn, or even stay awake in class. Too little sleep may contribute to mood swings and behavioral problems. And sleepy teens who get behind the wheel may cause serious—even deadly—accidents.”
Sometimes, excessive teenage sleepiness isn’t due to extracurricular activities, copious amounts of homework, or those part-time jobs. It can be caused by depression, restless leg syndrome, or side effects of medication. In that case, you should seek the advice and assistance of your health care provider to rule out those possibilities.
The Iron Fist of Love
As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure our teens are getting the adequate amount of sleep that will set them up for success every day! Discussing the importance of routine sleep habits can make the transition easier and not feel as though you’re imposing more rules on them.
Here are a few ideas that might help your teen achieve more sleep throughout the school week!
- Cut out cell phone use past a certain time each evening. This will eliminate late-night chats and texts that interrupt a restful night’s sleep.
- Try to avoid arguing with your teen right before bedtime.
- Enlist a bedtime routine/schedule and stick to it insistently.
- If you prefer, allow your teens to sleep in on weekends, but only two to three hours past their normal wake-up time, so as not to disrupt their regular sleep patterns.
- Set the mood for a peaceful transition into sleep. Try dimming the lights and avoiding TV and electronics, which promote higher levels of brain activity.
- Curb the caffeine.
Setting and keeping a sleep schedule is highly important to teenage brain development and productive daily living! Take part in getting more sleep yourself and see the difference it can make! We all regret the naps we gave up as toddlers!
Find a bed that makes you feel good,