Sleep. It is something we need and love. However, we deprive ourselves from it almost everyday. Unfortunately, teenagers are doing the same. The main reason for that may be another thing we love-- our phones. Lack of sleep can cause long term health effects and can negatively affect our teenagers in school. As parents, we should try our best to get our teenagers enough sleep.

How much sleep do teenagers need?

We all know the importance of sleep. It is where we grow, rest, and improve our body’s overall health. Up to ⅓ of our lives may be spent sleeping, but this may not be feasible for most people since the proper amount of sleep vastly differs per age group. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a study on this, and the conclusion was that teenagers aged 14-17 need an average of 8-10 hours of sleep per night. Overall, the common pattern of the study was that as humans age, they need less sleep. When we do not get enough sleep, we go into something called sleep debt. Enough sleep debt can compile into sleep deprivation, and this is the stage where many teenagers are unfortunately at.

How much sleep are teenagers actually getting?

Teenagers are pretty infamous for not getting enough sleep during the school week. When they go through puberty, their internal clock shifts 2 hours. For instance, one who used to go to sleep at 10 p.m. now wants to go to sleep at midnight. Unfortunately, they still have to start school at the same time. Teenagers get an average of around 7 hours of sleep a day. The National Sleep Foundation claims that 7 hours is acceptable for one night but not optimal for an extended period of time. A sleep debt of an hour per day adds up during the week, leading to teenagers becoming sleep deprived. Throw in all of the schoolwork and extracurriculars that teenagers do in high school, and they are constantly in a state of having little rest.

The Negative Effects of Little Sleep

According to Nationwide Children's Hospital, sleep deprivation has a multitude of negative effects on our teenagers. Here are the 5 main ones:

  • Different Moods- teens may start to become irritable, moody, or cranky because of their lack of sleep. This can lead them to becoming angry more easily, and try to remember that this is not entirely their fault.
  • Changes in Behavior- the main finding is that teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, driving recklessly, and more.
  • Lowered Cognitive Abilities- a lack of sleep can result in problems with memory, attention, decision making, reaction time, and creativity. These are all related to school.
  • Decreased Academic Performance- teens who spend nights not sleeping do worse in school than those who sleep well. They get poorer grades, fall asleep in school sometimes, and are more likely to be tardy and absent.
  • Driving- teenagers who are sleep deprived are the most likely of any age group to fall asleep at the wheel. A time like 2-4 a.m. is extremely risky with drowsy driving, but 3-4 p.m. is a dangerous time for them as well.
  • Long Term Effects- Problems such as obesity, ADHD, high blood pressure, and increased behavioral problems may develop in the long run with a lack of sleep.

Tips to Get Teenagers More Sleep

  • The first piece of advice is to get them on a regular sleep schedule. Find a time for your teenager to fall asleep, and something like 10:30 p.m. - 6:30 a.m. can potentially be feasible.
  • Tell them to turn their phones off. Maybe even tell them to keep their devices out of the room entirely. When phones are used at night, there is a release of melatonin which makes it harder for teenagers to fall asleep.
  • Take naps- a nap of 15-20 min a day may start to make up for that sleep debt compiled during the week.
  • Wake them up on the weekends! Ok, you don’t have to wake them up at 8 a.m., but make sure they are not sleeping in until noon every day on the weekend. Sleeping that late can mess up their sleep cycle for the upcoming week.

Even though parents can not be fully there for their kids every single minute, they can help them stay healthy. Getting enough sleep should be of the utmost priority. After all, it is the activity we spend the most time of our lives on.

Author's Bio: 

KidGuard's sole mission is to protect your children online. Our team spends every waking hour thinking about how to bring awareness and inspire solutions on issues of cyber bullying, online predators, teen suicide, and childhood depression in the age of technology. KidGuard employs a team of researchers and writers to educate parents on solutions to digital parenting problems and also runs a popular child cell phone monitoring software to allow parents to stay involved in their child's life online.