Sleep is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle at any age, and this is especially true for growing teenagers and their developmental well-being.
Despite the importance of sleep, research indicates most teens do not get enough sleep on a regular basis. Why are most teens so chronically sleep deprived and what are the dangers of sleep deprivation?
AGC Pediatrics serves the North Georgia area, and we are dedicated to helping parents keep their teenagers healthy. Learn more about teen sleep deprivation below.
Common Reasons Teens Don’t Get Enough Sleep
There are numerous reasons teenagers don’t sleep enough, and most teens aren’t just subject to one single reason.
Teen Sleep Deprivation Cause #1: Biology
As your child enters puberty, they experience hormonal changes, which affect when and how much melatonin they produce. Melatonin is the sleep hormone, which dictates a person’s sleep cycles and circadian rhythms.
It’s normal for teenagers to feel wide awake until 11pm or later and to want to sleep in. However, teens actually need 8 to 9 hours of good sleep per night.
Teen Sleep Deprivation Cause #2: Socializing
Socializing is a healthy part of your teenager’s life, and it’s important for their mental and emotional development.
When your teen is having fun hanging out with a friend, they may lose track of time, or if they’re at home, they may stay up later talking on the phone or chatting over social media. This cuts into time dedicated for sleep.
Additionally, blue light, which smart phones and laptops produce, inhibits the production of melatonin
Teen Sleep Deprivation Cause #3: Trying to do Everything
Your teen lives a busy lifestyle, which is split between things they have to do like going to school and things they want to do like participating in extracurricular activities.
It can be hard to balance school, homework, having a social life, and pursuing all of your interests. We’ve all been guilty of prioritizing the things we want to do and having to stay up late when it comes to writing a paper or submitting a college application.
These behaviors are common, but they can create stress, which makes it harder to sleep. In turn, sleep deprivation increases stress and reduces the ability to handle it.
Dangers of Teen Sleep Deprivation
As rampant as sleep deprivation may be, that doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Chronic sleep deprivation creates what’s known as a sleep debt, and it can have some pretty serious effects and consequences.
Teen Sleep Deprivation and Depression
One 2015 study from the Journal of Youth and Adolescence stated that for every hour of sleep a teen loses, they are 38 percent more likely to feel sad or hopeless. Teens who only get an average of six hours of sleep a night suffer from depression three times as often as a teen who doesn’t experience sleep deprivation.
Teen Sleep Deprivation and Substance Abuse
Less sleep can increase the likelihood of depression, but it also makes it harder for teens to handle their emotions and impulses.
Without the emotional capacity to cope with stress and other factors, teens are prone to self-medicate with alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Some of these substances make it harder to fall asleep or ruin the quality of sleep.
Teen Sleep Deprivation and Learning Problems
Teens who sleep less find it harder to behave, concentrate, and stay awake in school. Sleep allows the mind to rest and repair itself, and quality sleep aids the brain’s ability to learn and remember new information and to regulate emotional processes.