How Much Sleep Do Teens Need? Facts About Teens and Sleep Update 06/2024

eens love to claim that they are “night owls” and share stories of sleeping through the entire weekend. Teenagers’ sleep patterns may frustrate parents, but they’re a natural reaction to the hormonal shifts that occur with puberty. A normal shift in the circadian rhythm occurs in teenagers, according to Laura Sterni, MD, a sleep expert at Johns Hopkins. Their ability to sleep before midnight is compromised as a result of this. Teens often suffer from sleep deprivation as a result of early school start times, an increase in homework and extracurricular activities, and even a part-time job. But Sterni argues that parents should help their kids get the sleep they need, because this age group need more sleep than we think.

Facts About Teens and Sleep

Our bodies require sleep to replenish, recover, and restore their energy. It’s just as vital for teens as it is for adults. Sleep is essential for the normal development of their bodies and minds, as they are still in the early stages of growth. When children go from childhood to adolescence, they notice a change in their biological clock. When a child reaches puberty, their internal clock is set back by around two hours. As a result, if you used to put your pre-teen to bed at 9 p.m. without any difficulty, you may expect your adolescent to resist going to bed until around 11 p.m.
Explainer: why does the teenage brain need more sleep?They may not feel refreshed unless they are able to sleep until eight in the morning as a result of this natural transition. It’s understandable that American teenagers are suffering from chronic sleep deprivation, given that this is the country’s typical school start hour.

Why Teens Need More Sleep Than Younger Kids

So, how much shut-eye should you get? There is an hour or so more sleep needed by teens than there was at the age of 10 according to Johns Hopkins physician Michael Crocetti, M.D., M.P.H. Why? According to Crocetti, “teenagers are in the second stage of cognitive growth.” An extra hour of sleep is beneficial for a child’s growing brain and body. Sleep deprivation can lead to negative repercussions including depression and drug usage in adolescents (see “The Price of Sleep Deprivation in Teens,” below).

Why Don’t Teens Get Enough Sleep?

Teenagers have a reputation for staying up late, sleeping in on purpose, and generally being sluggish in the classroom. However, adolescent sleep habits are distinct from those of adults or younger children.

circadian rhythm (an internal biological clock) is reset during the teenage years, which means that a person must go asleep and wake up at different times. The brain hormone melatonin, which is released later at night in teenagers than in children and adults, may be to blame for this shift. This can make it more difficult for teenagers to get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

The body’s circadian rhythm changes throughout a hectic period of time. For most teens, the pressure to succeed in school is much greater, and it’s more difficult to get by without putting in the time and effort required to succeed. Teenagers also have other obligations, such as sports and other extracurricular activities, as well as jobs that require some of their time. Using electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, might make it difficult to fall asleep, as well. Many teenagers stay up late playing video games, texting their buddies, and watching movies.

Sleep deprivation is exacerbated by early school start times. It is not uncommon for teenagers to fall asleep after midnight, but they still have to get up early for school, which means that they may only receive a total of six or seven hours of sleep. Even if it doesn’t seem like much, even a few hours of sleep a night can add up to a significant sleep deficit.

Why Is Sleep Important?

To perform at your peak, you must get enough sleep. Teenagers require adequate sleep in order to:

  • In school, pay attention and learn from your professors and peers.
  • to enhance one’s athletic ability.
  • typical growth and development
  • Be healthy.

Lack of sleep can cause problems in the home and in the workplace, as well as drowsiness behind the wheel. Getting sleepy behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster.

Those who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation may:

  • heart disease and obesity are examples of health issues.
  • Infection-fighting difficulties.
  • depression and other forms of mental distress.

Am I Getting Enough Sleep?

When it comes to sleep, it’s possible that even though you think you’re getting enough, it’s not. If you have any of the following symptoms:

  • get out of bed in the morning and find it difficult.
  • I’m having a hard time staying focused.
  • are snoozing their way through lectures.
  • Behaving erratically or despondent.

How do I know if I’m getting enough sleep?

Sleep deprivation can be spotted by the following symptoms:

  • a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.
  • day-to-day difficulties in keeping my attention.
  • snoozing during lectures.
  • Being depressed or grumpy.

Causes of teenage sleep deprivation

Most teens don’t get enough sleep for a variety of reasons.

  • hormonal time shift — hormones during puberty cause the body clock to advance by one or two hours, resulting in a one- to two-hour delay in sleep for teenagers. In spite of the fact that the teenage sleeps later, early school starts prevent them from getting an early start. Chronic sleep deprivation is the result of this nightly “sleep debt.”
  • Smartphones, tablet computers, and other gadgets with screens that are used near bedtime can disrupt a person’s ability to fall asleep. A research by Vic Health and the Sleep Health Foundation found that teens who put down their smartphones an hour before bed gain an additional 21 minutes of sleep per night (that’s one hour and 45 minutes over the course of the school week).
  • After-school activities such as homework, sports and part-time jobs might disrupt a teen’s sleep cycle.
  • Entertainment options like television, the internet, and video games might entice teens to stay out of bed later than they otherwise would.
  • It’s the brain’s way of telling the body to stay awake. The brain chemical (neurotransmitter) melatonin, which is important for sleep, can be inhibited in the evening by light from electronic devices like televisions, cell phones, and laptops.
  • Insufficient sleep causes a teen’s brain to become more active, which in turn causes them to sleep less. Sleep is harder to come by if your brain is overworked.
  • societal norms — in Western society, staying busy rather than sleeping is regarded as more important.
    teens may have sleep disorders, including restless legs syndrome or sleep apnoea, which can limit their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Chronic Short Sleep Associated With Adolescent Obesity

Effects of teenage sleep deprivation

At least eight hours of sleep are required by a teenager’s developing brain every night. Chronic (ongoing) sleep loss may cause the following:

  • a lack of ability to focus.
  • falling off in class mentally.
  • a reduced capacity to pay attention.
  • Memory loss or inability.
  • a lack of sound judgment.
  • lack of vigor.
  • Irritability as well as hostility.
  • depression.
  • a willingness to take risks.
  • slowing of the physical reactions.
  • a tendency toward carelessness that could lead to physical harm.
  • lowered level of athletic ability.
  • diminished ability to learn.
  • a rise in’sick days’ from school due to exhaustion.
  • truancy.

Teenagers and Sleep: Help Them Get What They Need

Parenting advice from Sterni and Crocetti is to treat teenagers and their sleep as seriously as possible. Begin by setting an example of good sleep hygiene by maintaining a regular sleep pattern, reducing evening coffee consumption, and engaging in regular physical activity. They also provide these tried-and-true suggestions for dealing with teenagers.

Make an appointment with your doctor. A pediatrician is a great resource for educating and screening young people for sleep disorders such as apnea, insomnia, and irregular circadian rhythms.

Make the most of a sunny start to your day. It’s simpler for teenagers to get up in the morning and go to sleep at night if they eat their breakfast outside or near a window that gets a lot of sunlight.

Aim to strengthen the relationship. Ask your teen how he felt during a test or a sport when he’s rested. The more sleep he gets, the more positive his view becomes—and the more sleep he needs, the better.

Car rights should be linked to sound rest. Teenagers who are sleep deprived are more likely to have an accident than those who get enough sleep. In the morning, if my adolescent son doesn’t get enough sleep, I won’t let him drive him to school,” Crocetti explains.

Encourage young people to reevaluate their daily routines. Help your kid locate an earlier time to start schoolwork if he usually does it after nightly activities. Having a hectic schedule may necessitate some downsizing.

Recommend naps in the afternoon. Before dinner, sleep-deprived teenagers may benefit from a 30-45-minute power nap. This is a better solution for sleep deprivation in teens than sleeping in, which disrupts their body’s natural sleep cycle..

Discourage the use of electronic devices in the bedroom. Use of computers and other electronic devices at night reduces a teen’s ability to fall asleep because they expose them to a form of light that suppresses production of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

Promote later start times for schools. At 8:30 am, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools begin their day. This is something you should bring up with the local school board.

Watch the seasons change. Summertime sleep schedule shifts are common among teenagers. To be on the safe side, Sterni suggests that students adhere to the same sleep routine they used during the school year. School-year start-up concerns for teens whose schedules change dramatically include moodiness and excessive daytime sleepiness, as well as difficulty returning to an adequate school sleep routine. Sleep specialists may be necessary for those who have seen major adjustments in their sleep patterns in September.

See your doctor if you:

  • despite following the advice in this document, I still have difficulty sleeping at night.
  • I can’t get back to sleep after waking up at night or in the early hours of the morning.
  • in spite of obtaining adequate sleep, you’re still lacking energy.
  • are having difficulty fulfilling your obligations, such as not being able to go to school, work, or spend time with your friends.
  • have persistently depressed emotions.
  • worry so much that you can’t concentrate on anything else.
  • In other words, you’re often sick in different ways (e.g., migraines, loss of appetite, or other symptoms that you can’t explain).

Frequently Asked Questions

Should adolescents sleep more if they are involved in athletics?

Sports-playing teens do require more rest than their sedentary counterparts. Mood and alertness are aided, and performance and reaction times are improved as a result. Tissue regeneration and healing are also made possible by this nutrient. As a result, a deficit has a negative impact on all of these metrics. According to a Stanford University study, athletes who got an extra hour of sleep were more likely to achieve personal bests and perform at their best during their competitions.

Why does my teenager like to sleep in on the weekends?

It’s a solid sign that their body is scrambling to make up for sleep debt if your teenager asks for pancakes at noon on a Saturday. Most of us, even as adults, are still guilty of the same transgressions. Because of our hectic weekday schedule, we only get about an hour or so of sleep a night. When the weekend finally arrives, we’re so fatigued that we fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning.Because of this, your teenager’s internal clock is disrupted. Having been up late on the weekends, they have a tougher time going to sleep on Sunday night. They’ll stay up late and then have a hard time waking up on Monday. It’s a never-ending circle.

Is it normal for them to stay up so late?

Sadly, the answer is yes. Internal clock alters by around two hours as a teen reaches puberty. As a result, they won’t be tired for another two hours. They used to be able to go to sleep easily around 8 p.m., but now they won’t be able to go to sleep until 10 p.m. or later. As a result of this trend, medical professionals and policymakers are debating whether to move school start times later in the morning to better accommodate teens’ nocturnal habits.
The best approach to get your adolescent to go to bed at a reasonable hour is to establish a consistent plan for them. For this to work, they’ll have to be willing to put in the time and effort. Before going to bed, you may need to help them relax so that they fall asleep. As an illustration, if they express a desire for some alone time, suggest that they cuddle up with a book before going to bed.It’s also critical to set up your teen’s room so that he or she can unwind. Before they go to bed, make sure there aren’t any bright lights coming in from the outside, turn off phones, and maybe even invest in a white noise machine to assist them go off to sleep.

In the hours preceding up to bed, limit your teen’s time spent on social media, YouTube, and other online activities.

What can they do if they struggle to fall asleep?

The best approach to get your adolescent to go to bed at a reasonable hour is to establish a consistent plan for them. For this to work, they’ll have to be willing to put in the time and effort. Before going to bed, you may need to help them relax so that they fall asleep. As an illustration, if they express a desire for some alone time, suggest that they cuddle up with a book before going to bed.It’s also critical to set up your teen’s room so that he or she can unwind. Before they go to bed, make sure there aren’t any bright lights coming in from the outside, turn off phones, and maybe even invest in a white noise machine to assist them go off to sleep.

In the hours preceding up to bed, limit your teen’s time spent on social media, YouTube, and other online activities.

Is it normal for an adolescent to sleep walk?

Despite the fact that sleepwalking is frequent in children, most adolescents outgrow it. As a parent, it’s important to review your teen’s sleep routine to see if a lack of sleep is to blame for their nighttime wanderings. Sleepwalking has been linked to some drugs. Check the package insert for adverse effects and ask your doctor if the medication could be responsible for the behavior if your teen is on any prescriptions at all.
Teens vs. Sleep – Inkwell


Most teenagers aren’t aware of the significance of getting to bed at a reasonable hour for their health and well-being. Explain to your child the importance of getting enough sleep at night to them. Remind them that preparing for a test or completing homework doesn’t have to take up all of your time. A later start time should be implemented in your child’s school, so talk to the administrators and see what you can do to help.It’s only a matter of time before your teen leaves the home and heads to college or the workforce. By teaching children good behaviors now, they’ll be better prepared for the future.

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