“Sleep is food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur. Skipping sleep can be harmful — even deadly, particularly if you are behind the wheel. You can look bad, you may feel moody, and you perform poorly. Sleepiness can make it hard to get along with your family and friends and hurt your scores on school exams, on the court or on the field. Remember: A brain that is hungry for sleep will get it, even when you don’t expect it. For example, drowsiness and falling asleep at the wheel cause more than 100,000 car crashes every year. When you do not get enough sleep, you are more likely to have an accident, injury and/or illness.” (1)
I’m a mom to three young teens that definitely don’t get enough sleep. Tweens need about 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night. Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best. Most teens do not get enough sleep.
Sleep is as important as the air you breathe, the food you eat, and the water you drink.
Many teens suffer from treatable sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.
Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week — they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep.
Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence — meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm.
If you do the same things every night before you go to sleep, you teach your body the signals that it’s time for bed. Try taking a bath or shower (this will leave you extra time in the morning), or reading a book.
Consequences Of Not Getting Enough Sleep
- Not getting enough sleep or having sleep difficulties can:
- Make you more prone to pimples. Lack of sleep can contribute to acne and other skin problems.
- Lead to aggressive or inappropriate behavior such as yelling at your friends or being impatient with your teachers or family members.
- Cause you to eat too much or eat unhealthy foods like sweets and fried foods that lead to weight gain.
- Heighten the effects of alcohol and possibly increase the use of caffeine and nicotine.
- Limit your ability to learn, listen, concentrate and solve problems. You may even forget important information like names, numbers, your homework or a date with a special person in your life.
- When you are sleep deprived, you are as impaired as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%, which is illegal for drivers in many states. Drowsy driving causes over 100,000 crashes each year. Recognize sleep deprivation and call someone else for a ride. Only sleep can save you!
- No pills, vitamins or drinks can replace good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your sleep, so avoid coffee, tea, soda/pop, and chocolate late in the day so you can get to sleep at night. Nicotine and alcohol will also interfere with your sleep.
- Make your room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Let in bright light in the morning to signal your body to wake up.
- Naps can help pick you up and make you work more efficiently if you plan them right. Naps that are too long or too close to bedtime can interfere with your regular sleep.
- Establish a bed and wake-time and stick to it, coming as close as you can on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get in sync with its natural patterns. You will find that it’s easier to fall asleep at bedtime with this type of routine.
School Schedule And Lack Of Sleep
Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep to do their best and naturally go to sleep around 11:00 pm, one way to get more sleep is to start school later.
Teens’ natural sleep cycle puts them in conflict with school start times. Most high school students need an alarm clock or a parent to wake them on school days. They are like zombies getting ready for school and find it hard to be alert and pay attention in class. Because they are sleep deprived, they are sleepy all day and cannot do their best.
Schools that have set later bell times find that students do not go to bed later, but get one hour more of sleep per school night, which means five hours more per week.
Enrollment and attendance improve and students are more likely to be on time when school starts. Parents and teachers report that teens are more alert in the morning and in better moods; they are less likely to feel depressed or need to visit the nurse or school counselor.
In a recent sleep poll, it was discovered 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. In addition they:
- Felt unhappy, sad or depressed
- Felt hopeless about the future
- Felt nervous or tense
- Worried too much about things
Make sleep a priority. Keep a sleep diary. Decide what you need to change to get enough sleep to stay healthy, happy, and smart!
Take care until next time,