If you are currently or ever have been the parent of a teenager, you’ve probably felt mystified when trying to understand their sleep cycles. Teenagers tend to stay up late on the computer or hanging out with friends, and then get by on very little sleep during the week. But come the weekend, it’s not uncommon for parents to find their teenagers sleeping well past noon. You might even get to the point where they’re so sleepy you have to bring them into your health clinic in White Salmon, WA to make sure they’re not ill!
So what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to teenagers and sleep? There’s new research and information coming out all the time, but there are a few things we know almost for certain about how much sleep teenagers need, and what some common sleep problems are for teens. Read on to find out how you can make sure your teenager gets all the sleep they need.
- How much sleep do teenagers need? You’ve probably heard that eight hours is a solid amount of sleep for adults, and it’s pretty good for teenagers as well. In fact, some sleep experts even recommend anywhere from eight to 10 hours a night for teens. But unfortunately, few teenagers actually get the amount of sleep they need. A recent study found that only 15 percent of U.S. teenagers get at least eight and a half hours per night. To say lack of sleep is an endemic problem is no overstatement.
- What happens when teens don’t get enough sleep? We commonly see kids at our health clinic in White Salmon, WA who complain of being tired or having trouble focusing. Often the underlying problem is simple: lack of sleep. When teens don’t get enough sleep, they experience trouble concentrating and are prone to overeating and weight gain, unusually aggressive behavior and even an increase in acne.
- What are some common sleep disorders teenagers have? Teenagers can suffer from all the same sleep disorders adults experience, but some of the most common ones include narcolepsy, insomnia, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. Often sleep problems start during the teenage years, making dealing with them especially difficult.
- Is staying up late abnormal? Getting enough sleep each night is imperative, but that doesn’t mean staying up late is bad or unusual. Sleep cycles shift during adolescent years, which means that your teen staying up past midnight is nothing to worry about in and of itself. Unfortunately, most high schools and family schedules require kids to wake up by 7 a.m. or even earlier, putting teens and their parents in a bit of a dilemma.
- How can teenagers improve their sleep habits? Given schedule constraints, the best option for most teens is to try to go to bed as early as possible, even if it doesn’t come naturally to them. Some ways to improve sleep include avoiding caffeine, keeping a sleep diary, not using any technology with a screen during the two hours before bedtime and taking short naps throughout the day. It might be an uphill battle, but helping your teen get as much sleep as possible will improve their health and happiness, and yours as well.
If you have additional questions or want more information about how to help your teenager get the sleep they need, call White Salmon Family Practice today.