The typical teenager gets tons of sleep, right? Actually, the typical teenager needs tons of sleep but most don’t get it. While teenagers need an average of 9 hours of sleep per night, a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that 59% of all teens live with chronic sleep deprivation – or less than six hours of sleep per night.
Why is sleep so important at this stage and how can we help teenagers get this precious sleep?
Sleep is integral to the well-being of teenagers. Without enough sleep, teens can feel like they are walking around in a perpetual haze. And this haze can lead to disastrous consequences, among them: increased injury due to lack of attentiveness, impulsivity and mood swings, as well as an increase in at-risk behavior.
We can help teenagers get more sleep:
- Simplify. In these times when life has slowed down and people are generally at home, this is an easy one. But when and if things get crazy again, it’s important to remember that over-scheduling can result in less sleep and less sleep can result in poor decisions, especially with teenagers. Choose a few evenings a week that are activity-free.
- Discourage snacking after dinner. When we eat at night, we signal to our bodies that it is time to get working. Instead of slowing down and preparing for bed, our bodies are busy digesting and transforming the food into energy. This can disrupt our sleep patterns. Instead, encourage your teens to stop eating at least two hours before bed.
- Set a good example. Both in consistency – sticking to a schedule and making sleep a priority – teach your teens through what you do that sleep is important for your wellbeing and for theirs.
When it feels like the world has been turned upside down, it’s important to know that there are some things that are within our control. Our teens are almost definitely not included in that category – but perhaps we can help them get their sleep under control.