Healthy Sleep In Teens

If teenagers have trouble waking up in the morning, fall asleep in class and have problems concentrating in school or while playing sports, these are signs that they could need more sleep.

 

While children wake up early in the morning, teenagers may sleep until noon. As children become teenagers, their body clocks change. Teenagers naturally go to bed later at night and sleep in later in the morning. Unfortunately, this shift can make it difficult for teens to get enough sleep and go to school on time.

 

How much sleep do teens need?

Teens in 9th-10th grade need around 9.25 hours of sleep to function their best the next day. Teens in 11th-12th grade need around 8.5 hours of sleep at night. However, most teens only get 7.5 hours of sleep on school nights, and some only sleep 6.5 hours or less.

 

Teens do not get used to the lack of sleep, and over time, the affects worsen.

 

What happens if teenagers don’t get enough sleep?

  • Moodiness & irritability
  • Problems with learning & memory that can lead to bad grades
  • Slower reaction time that can make it harder to do well at sports and increases risk of accidents
  • Higher chances of getting sick

 

A dangerous consequence of teens not getting enough sleep is drowsy driving. This occurs when drivers are too tired to remain alert and focused behind the wheel. Drivers can fall asleep and lose control of the vehicle. Some studies show that teen drivers are more likely than other age groups to drive while tired. Drowsy driving can cause accidents & death.

 

Signs of drowsy driving include:

  • Yawning constantly
  • Ending up too close to the next car
  • Missing road signs or driving past turns
  • Drifting out of the lane
  • Heavy eyelids

 

What can prevent drowsy driving in teens?

  • Getting at least 8.5-9 hours of sleep at night
  • If teens recognize when they are too tired to drive
  • If teens get rides late at night or early in the morning instead of driving

 

Drowsy driving can cause accidents and deaths. It can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.

 

What can teens do to optimize sleep?

Know that sleep is important. If teens know the value of sleep, they are more likely to make it a priority

 

Keep devices out of the bedroom. Many teens use their cell phone or computer before bed. The light from these devices interferes with sleeping. Using these devices can also distract teens from sleep. If teens stop using these devices 30 minutes before bedtime, they can fall asleep faster.

 

Don’t use tobacco or alcohol. Some teens use tobacco to help them stay awake or alcohol to help them fall asleep. Both of these substances make sleep quality worse and lead to other health problems.

 

Don’t drink caffeine after lunch. It’s best if teens avoid caffeinated beverages like soda, coffee or energy drinks. If teens still insist on drinking caffeine, it is best to limit it to the morning hours only.

 

Follow a routine. Many teens sleep in on the weekends to make up for lost sleep during the week. If they sleep too late, this can make it harder to fall asleep the next day. If this occurs on Sunday, it can cause them to start off the school week with poor sleep. Teens shouldn’t sleep more than 2 hours past their normal wake up time.

 

What else can affect teens sleep?

Several sleep disorders can affect teens, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Restless Legs Syndrome and Narcolepsy. These disorders can cause teens to not get enough sleep.

 

If teens continue to experience problems sleeping after trying these solutions, they or their parents should talk to a health care provider.

 

SOURCE: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine- www.aasmnet.org

 

 

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