Ah, puberty. What an awkward phase of life! We all go through it, usually between the ages of 10 and 14 for girls and 12 and 16 for boys. This period brings on a lot of changes like body hair and breast growth. Hormones are also raging, causing every type of feeling under the sun. Yet, out everything that gets attention, there’s one part we all ignore – Sleep.
Teens need 8 to 10 hours of shut-eye each night. That’s actually more than adults, who only need 7 to 9 hours.1 But despite these recommendations, nearly 70 percent of high school students aren’t getting enough rest.2
Needless to say, teenagers are sleepier than ever. What’s worse is that the rise of technology plus the stress of puberty can make teens seem really lazy.
Sound familiar? Before nagging the young adult in your life, learn about why he or she needs more sleep. By knowing the science and potential consequences, you can help a teen live a healthier life.
Why Do Teens Need More Sleep?
Sleep is needed for normal growth and development. It’s the reason why babies are always snoozing, but it’s no different during puberty. Teenagers need sleep to support healthy cell division, brain function, and hormonal balance.3
All of these things obviously go haywire during puberty. So order to keep things in check, sleep is an absolute must.
Why Are Teens So Tired?
It comes down to two things – changing body clocks and school schedules.
Come puberty, the sleep hormone melatonin is released later at night. This moves the internal body clock by 2 hours, making teens stay up 2 hours later and sleep 2 hours longer. It’s a shift known as “sleep phase delay” or “delayed sleep phase.”4
In fact, delayed sleep phase affects 15 percent of teens and adults. It usually shows up in adolescence and follows people into early adulthood.5
The obvious answer is to sleep later and sleep in. Unfortunately, the typical high school schedule doesn’t allow that. The first-period class may start as early as 7 AM when a teenager’s body still wants to sleep. There’s limited time after school, but for most teens, it’s filled with sports, jobs, or other activities. And then there’s homework and studying!
Consequences Of Poor Sleep During Puberty
Lack of sleep is dangerous for anyone. But for teens, it can significantly harm a crucial time of life.6
- Falling asleep during class
- Poor attendance
- Poor grades
- Missed after-school activities
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Difficulty handling stress of puberty
- Higher risk of bad decisions
- Sports injuries
- Car crashes
How A Teenager Can Get More Sleep
Growing up comes with a lot of responsibilities. But with the right approach, it’s possible to get more shut-eye during puberty. As a teen’s parent or guardian, showing support and understanding will make a world of difference, too.
1. Develop A Routine
This can be tricky when the day is filled with after-school activities and homework. However, it helps to go to bed around the same time each night. Rising at the same time each morning will help as well.
2. Set The Mood
A teen’s bedroom should be dark and quiet. The temperature shouldn’t be too hot or cold, so find ways to feel comfortable. This might mean using a window fan or thicker blankets.
3. Avoid Electronics
The blue light from electronics can mess with sleep. Instead of using devices in bed, avoid all technology for one hour before sleeping.7 At home, this can be enforced as a house-wide rule.
4. Avoid Heavy Meals
Steer clear from large, greasy meals a few hours before bed. Light snacks are totally fine, so have some on hand in case your growing teen gets hungry.8 Otherwise, avoid serving heavy meals at night.
5. Designate The Bedroom
A teenager’s room should not be used for anything but sleep. If possible, find a quiet space in the home for homework and studying. Meals should only be eaten in the kitchen.
|↑1||Hirshkowitz, Max, Kaitlyn Whiton, Steven M. Albert, Cathy Alessi, Oliviero Bruni, Lydia DonCarlos, Nancy Hazen et al. “National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary.” Sleep Health 1, no. 1 (2015): 40-43.|
|↑2||Teen Sleep Habits. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑3, ↑7, ↑8||Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑4, ↑6||Healthy Sleep In Teens. American Thoracic Society.|
|↑5||Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. American Sleep Association.|