Teens and sleep: the ultimate conundrum.
Unfortunately, sleep deprivation in teens is all too common and causes a wide variety of negative consequences.
At the same time, you can’t force your teen to sleep.
Here’s what you can do: educate yourself (and your teen) about the importance of sleep for teenagers.
You can also encourage healthy sleep habits throughout the entire family by setting a positive example and changing some environmental conditions.
How Prevalent is Sleep Deprivation in Teens?
According to Stanford University, sleep deprivation in teens is an epidemic.
In fact, over 87% of teenagers are chronically sleep deprived. Don’t pat yourself on the back: adults aren’t doing too much better. In fact, 1 in 3 adults is sleep deprived.
Lots of factors contribute to this shocking statistic:
- Early school start times followed by long days.
- Intense responsibilities from school, activities, and a social life.
- Chronic stimulation from video streaming, phones, and games.
- Teenagers have a biological tendency to stay up later and sleep-in.
The results of sleep deprivation in teens have drastic consequences.
Of course, parents commonly worry about school work and grades but lack of sleep impacts many factors of health and wellbeing including:
- Poor concentration and cognitive ability
- Reduced reaction times and driving ability (this is a big problem in adults, too)
- Mental health symptoms including anxiety and suicidal thoughts
- Slowed metabolism and weight gain
- Poor memory
How Many Hours of Sleep Do Teens Need?
Lots of parents find themselves asking “how many hours of sleep do teens need?” You aren’t alone, lack of sleep among teenagers is something every parent has to battle.
Teenagers require more sleep than adults: eight to ten hours each night. These eight to ten hours should happen consecutively: from bed time to morning.
This means naps or intermittent sleep is a no-no because during those eight to ten hours teens need to pass through the sleep cycle. Sleep stages like rapid eye movement (REM) and deep sleep are required for good physical and mental health.
Many parents might assume their teen sleeps too much because they pass out on the couch after school or sleep in past noon on the weekends. These poor sleep habits are actually a symptom of sleep deprivation in teens – not oversleeping.
How Much Sleep do Kids Need?
Likewise, parents also ask “how much sleep do kids need?”
Kids need a lot of sleep: much more than teenagers. Kids between the ages of six and 13 require nine to 11 hours of sleep each night.
Looking at this figure, you’ll notice that young teens require even more sleep than their older peers. Keep this in mind while monitoring your young teen’s sleep habits.
Teens and Sleep: Tips for Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits
You can’t force your teen to sleep – it’s just not going to happen.
This doesn’t mean you can’t make changes to encourage sleep. You can’t change your teen, but you can change yourself.
Here are some tips for encouraging healthy sleep in teenagers that don’t involve yelling or force:
1. Keep Hand-held Electronics in the Living Room at Bed Time
Make sure phones, tablets, and other devices stay outside in the living room or kitchen at bed time. It’s easy to stay up for hours scrolling through news feeds on social media – nip it in the bud.
2. Set a “Power Down” Time
What time should your teen go to bed in order to get the required eight to ten hours?
Let’s say your teen should fall asleep at 10, set a power-down time for 9. That last hour should be spent reading, taking a bath, or doing a laid-back activity to help slow down the brain.
3. Play by Your Own Rules
You need to set a good example and play by the same rules you set for your teen. If you force them to leave their cell phone in the living room but keep yours in bed, that’s not fair.
Make sure the entire family promotes healthy sleep habits. Power down together, relax, and get your recommended sleep.
The Importance of Sleep for Teenagers
Teens and sleep don’t usually get along but the importance of sleep really cannot be stressed enough – especially in teenagers.
Let your teen know that getting enough high-quality sleep helps reduce anxiety and depression. Educate them about the negative effects – just don’t use guilt to get your point across.
Unfortunately, many adults are also sleep deprived which means that parents aren’t setting a good example.
Sleep deprivation in both teenagers and adults can reduce cognitive function, memory, and driving ability – it’s downright dangerous.
Make sure that you encourage healthy sleep habits as a parent, change some environmental factors, and hopefully, your teen will follow.