Teenage sleep seems to be a hot topic as just this week on the Teenage Survival Coach Facebook page I’ve shared a couple of articles about schools accommodating their timetables to better sync with teen sleeping patterns. Maybe it’s newsworthy because we’re currently in school holiday mode with kids sleeping all day and parents left wondering how on earth to get them up and ready for school again!
Without getting all science-y here about human growth and physiology, it’s been proven that teens need much more sleep than they usually get.
So, why does my teen need more sleep than they’re getting?
In short, the teenage period is one of the most crucial chapters in a child’s growth. During adolescence, there’s great emotional, physical and mental growth which requires tremendous energy. Energy that’s obtained through good nutrition and solid sleep and quite at odds with Maccas and all-night gaming marathons enjoyed by some (not all) teenagers.
Like the water we drink and the air we breathe, quality sleep is essential for growth and survival. Especially during periods of rapid development like the teen years.
What causes teens to have insufficient sleep?
Teenage sleep patterns become irregular as they grow and this is due to several factors: busy everyday activities, school and part-time job routines, changing interests and of course hormonal development. Also, without any doubt, the teen years are a time for increased gadget use and the impact of devices and screen time on sleep has been well documented in various studies.
As their time is divided between so many interests and commitments, their body can find it hard to settle into a healthy sleeping pattern. Unbalanced sleep arrangements can then become the norm for their growing and developing body. And that’s not good.
How can insufficient sleep impact on a teen?
Sleep is food for the brain and it allows the body to rejuvenate and replenish. Without enough sleep, it’s difficult to perform everyday tasks and activities plus it greatly affects focus and decision making – two things teens struggle with anyway.
More seriously though, prolonged lack of sleep can lead to serious health problems and if this can affect any adult, just imagine the potential impact on a teenager’s developing body.
How much is enough?
Teenagers need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep in order for their body to sustain daily routines and body development. But, due to busy lives with school, socialising and part time work this need is seldom met. Here is where time management then becomes a vital skill, so tasks are prioritised and completed allowing enough time for sufficient rest and sleep. There should also be a commitment to limit screen time to ensure gadgets don’t interrupt the sleep they get.
Of course, if you’re worried about your teen’s health and well-being because of poor sleep patterns, it’s vital to make an appointment with the GP to get some better sleep happening.