Why your teen needs more sleep than you
If you’re a parent of a teenager, you may have noticed that as your son or daughter reached their teen years, their need for sleep increased. This increased need for sleep in teens is biologically driven during this last critical phase of growth before and into adulthood. Unfortunately, many teens don’t get the amount of sleep their bodies and brains need as their lives become increasingly complex, with added responsibilities from schoolwork, activities and jobs.
Understanding why your teen needs more sleep than you do can help you assist your son or daughter in evaluating their sleep patterns, as well as make adjustments to their daily schedule to help them build healthy sleep habits that carry into early adulthood.
Changes due to puberty
The human body operates on a 24-hour cycle of waking and sleeping known as the circadian rhythm. This rhythm operates to make us wakeful at certain times, such as morning when the the sun rises, as well as sleepy as the day moves from afternoon to the hours of the evening. Thus, the hours of darkness overnight allow the body to get the sleep it needs. Not getting the proper sleep as a teen can cause some strange sleep disorders like waking nightmares and hypnic jerks.
School-aged children generally feel the need to fall asleep by eight to nine pm and find it difficult to stay up later. However, as children move into puberty in early adolescence, the time that sleepiness begins to overtake them shifts later, about ten pm to eleven pm. As this shift happens during puberty, teens find it harder to get to bed at earlier hours; however, even though they are wired to fall asleep later, they still need eight to ten hours of sleep as their bodies go through the rapid changes brought on by puberty, growth spurts, and cognitive changes to their brains throughout adolescence.
Changes to sleep schedules
Because teens often find it hard to fall asleep before ten to eleven pm, they often stay up later, either tossing and turning in bed or simply occupied with entertaining activities that delay the onset of sleep. But most teens also need to wake up earlier for the start of their school day as they enter secondary school. This later bedtime and earlier waking time creates an overall, long-term change to their sleep schedules and often results in sleep deprivation, leading to daytime napping or oversleeping on weekends.
Changes to daytime schedules
The teenage years are also exciting years of increasing responsibilities. Teens move from primary school through secondary school and into sixth form with greater academic demands within their classes and more homework. Added to the higher expectations from school, many teens also engage in extracurricular activities, sports, or part-time jobs, often all occurring on school nights as well as weekends. These added activities and responsibilities may encroach upon your teen’s free time and may even spill over into time when they should be resting or sleeping at night.
Helping your teen get the sleep they need is an important task as their parent. Simple changes such as creating an inviting bedroom with a comfortable bed and mattress, as well as encouraging them to evaluate their sleep schedules and activity commitments, can help your teen get the sleep they need.
The editorial unit