Parents of teenagers often complain about what a struggle it is to get their teens up, out and ready for school each morning. Another common complaint is how their teenagers could sleep until noon and beyond that on weekends.
There is one fact that these parents could be overlooking. That fact is that, most teenagers, like the rest of us, are sleep deprived. Teenagers are more vulnerable to the effects of sleep deprivation for a variety of reasons.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers require 8 1/4 to 9 hours of sleep per night. From puberty and throughout adolescence, the sleep requirement is greater than the amount needed for adults. How many is enough though?
Studies that have been done show that more than 90% of teenagers reported getting less than 9 hours of sleep per night due to insomnia, simple lack of time, getting up early for school, or other various reasons.
Part of the problems for teens is that they honestly don’t become sleepy until atound 11:00 at night. This is not because they are trying to be impossible.
It is because most teenagers’ natural body rhythms are geared this way. If a teenager can’t fall asleep until 11:00 and has to get up at 6:00 A.M., that leaves them sleep deprived with only 7 hours of sleep per night.
Adolescence is a difficult enough time to through as it is. When you factor in constant sleep deprivation, the repercussions are many. With all of the hormone swings, peer pressure and teen angst, adolescence is a common time for depression to set in. When a teenager is continually sleep deprived, the chances of developing depression increases.
Junior high and high school are such important times for a teen to learn the academic and social skills needed to succeed in the world. When a teenager is sleep deprived, the ability to focus on schoolwork will be greatly impaired.
In a study done in 1998, sleep specialists found that teenagers who got poor grades slept an average of 25 minutes less and got to bed 40 minutes later than the teens who got the A’s and B’s.
The sleeping in very late on weekends to try to compensate for the lack of sleep all week can actually further alter the teenager’s body sleep cycles. This, as a result, will make it even harder to wake up early for school come Monday morning.
As parents, you should try to curtail night time activities to end at a certain reasonable time. Encourage your teens to establish relaxing pre-bedtime routines. Set an appropriate bed time for your teens.
School systems should consider a later start time for students in the adolescent years. The late evening school sponsored activities should be trimmed back to an acceptable hour. Within the school curriculum, there should be information about sleep cycles, body rhythms and the importance of a healthy sleep schedule.