Teenagers and sleep

It is common knowledge that sleep is important. A good-night’s rest can enable the body to repair and be ready for a new day. Sleep can even prevent excess weight gain, heart disease, and increased illness duration. 

Sleep is especially important for teenagers. Sleep helps fuel the brain and body. Teens need more sleep because their minds and bodies are growing quickly. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, teenagers need about 9 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep.

However, teenagers do not get even close to enough sleep. 

One reason is a shift in sleep schedule. After puberty, there is a biological shift in a teen’s internal clock of about 2 hours. For example, a teenager that used to fall asleep at 9:00pm will now not be able to fall asleep until 11:00pm. It also means waking up 2 hours later in the morning. Another reason is early high school start times. Some schools start as early as 7:00am, meaning some teens need to get up as early as 5:00am to get ready for school. Another reason is other social and school obligations. Teens have homework, sports, after-school activities, and socializing through social media often lead to late bedtimes.

As a result, most teens are sleep deprived. 

A lack of sleep can affect mood, behavior, cognitive ability, academic performance, and for those that rive, drowsy driving. Sleep deprivation will influence teens to be moody, irritable, and cranky. It also increases the likelihood of them engaging in high-risk behaviors (like drinking, smoking, driving fast, etc.). Inadequate sleep will also result in problems with attention, memory, decision making, reaction time, and creativity. A lack of sleep can also result in poor grades. When driving, a lack of sleep increases the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. 

Well, how can teens get more sleep without sacrificing anything?

One way teens can get more sleep is by maintaining a sleep schedule. Choosing a bedtime and a time to wake up can help teens get enough sleep. Maintaining a sleep schedule also applies to weekends. Oversleeping on weekends can make going back to school on Monday incredibly difficult. Early afternoon naps are another way to get more sleep. Even 15-20 minutes of sleep after school can make an incredible difference. And as hard as it is, turning off screens before going to bed can make falling asleep easier as well. 

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