The Sleepy Teen

Teens are more sleep deprived than any other age group. Everything in their lives works against them in terms of getting the amount of sleep they actually need.Internal Clock: Teens secrete melatonin later in the day as compared to children and adults. This means they are not sleepy in the evening, and have energy deep into the night. However, they are tired in the morning, and are less alert. This is one reason that teens are likely to be going to bed later and hoping to wake up later than everyone else in the family.Research indicates that high schools which start later (9 or 10 am) have students who perform better on tests. Such schools have a lower absentee rate and students are more attentive and less aggressive.


Social Networking: The social needs of a teen are great and in today’s world teens are pressured to stay in touch via digital technology. In some areas, middle and high school kids go to sleep around 11pm and are woken up by peers in the middle of the night. Sometimes they sneak out of the house and more often they are online. They usually wake up around 1-2 am and go back to sleep around 4 am. Eventually kids outgrow this stage, when they realize that they want to sleep.

Activities: Teens are often overcommitted. They feel pressured to create an exciting resume in order to get into college. To do this some kids drive themselves to the limit. They take too many courses, at very high levels, and then get involved with time-consuming, energy draining extra-curricular activities. By the time they get to start their homework it is 10 pm. These students are often successful but at an expense.

Cure: Be understanding of the physiological, academic and social pressures that interfere with your teens ability to get a good nights sleep. Brainstorm with your teen on ways to increase their sleep time, during the week and on weekends. More sleep will help stabilize mood and improve academic performance.

  • Help teens to organize their time. Prioritize their responsibilities, and work together to determine when to stop adding activities.
  • Be aware of sneaky nighttime behaviors by setting alarms in the house or checking the times that your teens are on their cell phone or computer.
  • Make the bedroom a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If necessary, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Bright light in the morning signals your body to wake up.
  • Naps can help but make sure they are short and not close to bedtime, or else, you will be interfering with your night time sleep.
  • Stop drinking high energy and caffeinated drinks…especially in the afternoon and evening.
  • Bedtime rituals condition the body to fall asleep easily.

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Did you know?

  • Teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep!
  • Lack of sleep increases pimples, and acne!
  • Sleep deprivation can cause you to eat too much or eat unhealthy foods like sweets and fried foods that lead to weight gain.
  • Drowsy driving = being as impaired as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%.

National Sleep Foundation Poll

  • While everyone is accustomed to having a bad morning here and there – feeling irritable, unhappy or even sad, NSF’s 2006 Sleep in America poll found that many adolescents exhibit symptoms of a depressive mood on a frequent if not daily basis, and these teens are more likely to have sleep problems.
  • 73% of those adolescents who report feeling unhappy, sad, or depressed also report not getting enough sleep at night and being excessively sleepy during the day.
  • Most adolescents were likely to say they worried about things too much (58%) and/or felt stressed out/anxious (56%). Many of the adolescents surveyed also reported feeling hopeless about the future, or feeling unhappy, sad or depressed much or somewhat within the past two weeks of surveying.
  • Research shows that lack of sleep affects mood, and a depressed mood can lead to lack of sleep. To combat this vicious cycle, sleep experts recommend that teens prioritize sleep and focus on healthy sleep habits. Teens can start by getting the 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep they need each night, keeping consistent sleep and wake.

True Story

Research found that if a student sleeps 8 hours before a test they will do better than if they slept less. Sleeping helps the mind work better. The last two hours are particularly important. That is when memory consolidates. Therefore, rather than burning the midnight oil, have your teen go to sleep!