According to studies, a 13-year-old child should need between eight to ten hours of quality sleep. Sleep deprivation may lead to a wide variety of mental and physical health problems. Sleep energizes the brain. If your teenage child doesn’t get the ideal sleep hours, he is likely to suffer from depression, obesity and deficient immune system. Poor academic performance is also traced to chronic sleep deprivation.
Most importantly, kids in their teenage and adolescence need more sleep because they are undergoing intensive cognitive and physical maturity. Better sleep time is essential for your teen child’s brain development and growth spurts.
Why sleep teenagers may suffer from sleep deprivation
Screen time insomnia
Several research studies have shown links between sleep deprivation and the usage of electronic devices before bed. If your child is a huge fan of entertainment media, he will be busy on his iPhone or computer at night. This habit can hinder your child from getting quality sleep, making him wake up late and incapable of meeting the demands of school work during the day.
Devices such as phones emit blue light which hampers with the body’s production of melatonin. This can consequently obstruct your child’s circadian rhythm, suppressing the need to sleep.
hormonal time shift
Hormones are the body’s chemical messenger. They regulate body development and can control behaviour. Teenagers go through hormonal changes during puberty. Scientific research suggests a phenomenon called ‘sleep phase delay’. This occurs when a child reaches teenage, occasioned by a bedtime delay for two or three hours. This is different from insomnia and is a natural process of growing up. With time, teenagers quickly adapt to their new sleep schedule.
The stress your child faces in school may have adverse effects on his sleep. Every day your child takes part in a plethora of activities and commitments like school games, laboratory work, sporting activities, assignments. These activities may over-stress your child and cause sleep deprivation.
Sleep disorders are conditions that lower the quality of sleep time. Disorders like restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, narcolepsy and chronic insomnia can affect your child’s ability to sleep on time.
What happens if my teenage child does not get enough sleep
If your child does not get enough sleep, especially in his teens, he would likely experience a series of mental and psychological harm like:
Inability to concentrate
If your child struggles to pay attention and remains focused in class or at home, then lack of sleep may be the likely cause. Low sleep quality impairs with the brain ability to process information. This is because when your child sleeps adequately, he will not only be energized, but he will also be optimized and at his best throughout the day. Sleep gives the brain the break it needs to dispel waste products, which helps to clarify thoughts and promote mindfulness.
Poor decision making
A research study published in Annals of Neurology linked lack of sleep with poor decision-making habits in young adults. Chronic sleep deprivation increases risky behaviour and irrational behaviour.
Moodiness and aggression
Sleep is intricately connected to the way we express emotion, as various scientific studies have long proven. Sleep deprivation can affect brain performance and can cause mood disturbances and increased anger. So if your child does not get quality sleep often, he may show more negative emotions.
Reduced academic performance
Lack of sleep can also lead to poor academic performance. With low cognitive functions that sleep deprivation causes, the likelihood of good grade scores and positive learning experiences is reduced drastically.
One indisputable fact about sleep is that it is of immense benefit to the immune system. Sleep deprivation can make your child vulnerable to common infections. It also delays ‘recovery-time, if one becomes sick. Sleep promotes the release of cytokines by the immune system, which help in bolstering the immune system.
Top 3 ways to encourage healthy sleep habit in Teenagers
Your child may typically prefer sleeping late, and it can be difficult for you to intervene, but with the following tip outlined below, you will gradually create a healthy sleep routine for your child.
Avoid screen time before bed
Since smartphones and TV psychologically distract the brain from sleep and mess with the body’s circadian rhythm, it is of utmost importance to discourage screen time before bed. Experts recommend phones should be put away at least an hour before bed.
Relaxing bedtime routine
We must relax our brain and body to sleep comfortably. A relaxing bedtime routine will calm and refresh the mind in preparation for sleep. Encourage your child to undertake soothing activities like reading and bathing. His room shouldn’t be too cold or hot, but cosy enough to sleep in.
Avoid caffeine or stimulants before bed
Stimulants like coffee and other energy drinks are used to keep the brain alert. According to the International Coffee Organization, 1.4 billion cups of coffee are consumed daily. It means a lot of teens are already dependent on coffee. Caffeinated drinks can cause extreme difficulty in sleeping because of their effect on the central nervous system. So keep those drinks away from your child before bed.