Teenagers are not getting enough sleep, and this sleep deprivation can cause a wide range of mental and physical development problems. For instance, various psychologists have blamed poor learning experience and risky behaviour on lack of sleep in teenagers. The recommended amount of sleep time teenagers ( age 13-19 years) is nine hours.
For optimal performance in academics and sporting activities, teenagers should get the correct amount of sleep. Most teenagers today sleep for six hours or less. This is far from the norm.
So why do teens suffer from sleep deprivation today?
Why are teens not getting enough sleep?
Sleep schedule shift
Studies have shown that teens may find it difficult to fall asleep because of their internal body clock (called: circadian rhythm). During puberty, The circadian rhythm experience a shift in sleep time. This happens biologically and can cause a delay in sleep for two hours. So, if your child always falls asleep at 8 PM, you will notice he will stay awake till 10 PM. This happens as a result of brain hormones.
School activities and social commitment
A lot of times, teens engage in stressful and time-consuming activities that usually lead to late sleeping hours. In the evening, some teens may do assignments, socialize with friends and take part in other after-school pursuits. This may cause them to sleep very late.
Electronic media devices like phones, computers, video game, tablets and television can distract teens from falling asleep. An average 14-year-old, at 9 PM, will either be chatting with his friends on Facebook or playing video games or watching TikTok videos. Research studies have shown that the use of these devices contribute to poor quality of sleep because they emit blue light signalling to the brain to remain awake.
What happens when teens do not get enough sleep
Low cognitive function
Teens who do not get enough sleep often experience a decline in their cognitive function. Sleep is vital for the brain to perform at its best. Chronic sleep deprivation will hinder ones ability to memorize effectively or retain information. It can also cause low concentration or poor focus, reduces creativity level and negatively affects decision making.
Negative moods (anger, sadness, aggressiveness and fussiness) have been linked to lack of sleep, as various research studies have continually proven. Chronic sleep deprivation does not only dampen positive mood but triggers a feeling of depression.
Poor academic activities
Another consequence of sleep deprivation is poor academic performances and bad learning experience. Since sleep impairs on ones ability to concentrate and effectively retain information, teens who do not get adequate rest will find it challenging to do well in school. A study published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science shows that even mild sleep disturbances can cause strong negative academic performance.
Chronic sleep deprivation weakens the immune system and slow recovery time in teenagers. It can increase your child’s vulnerability to respiratory infections like cold and flu. Serious illnesses such as obesity, diabetics and high blood pressure have been linked to sleep deprivation in recent studies.
How can teens get more sleep time
Restrict the use of electronic media devices before bedtime
Since studies have shown that electronic gadgets like iPhones, television, video games, can confuse the brain and distract your child from sleeping, the best thing to do to address this situation is to limit the use of these gadgets to an hour before bedtime.
Regular sleep schedule
Consistent sleep patterns will refresh your child when he wakes up. The trick is to train your child’s brain to adapt to specific sleep time, so he would not be difficult to wake in the morning. So pick a particular sleep time, and your teen should try to go to bed at that time consistently.
Avoid caffeinated drinks before bed
Caffeinated drinks like coffee, coke, energy drinks and tea, should not be consumed before bed. They contain caffeine, a stimulant, which can cause the brain to become more alert. Caffeine also inhibits the brain from producing adenosine, which is responsible for the feeling of sleepiness. Excessive consumption of coffee is also known to cause insomnia.