According to the Child Mind Institute, less than 8% of American teenagers get the sleep they need. This leaves the vast majority sleep deprived. So how does going without the recommended nine hours of sleep each night actually impact teenagers?
-Increased risk of unintentional injuries and death. Drowsiness and fatigue are found to dramatically increase the potential for car crashes and other non-driving related accidents.
-Inability to self-regulate. Lack of sleep has been linked to aggression, impulsivity, and inability to stay on task and focus.
-Substance use and risky behavior. Sleep deprived teens are far more likely to use stimulants like caffeine and nicotine to get through the day. In addition, they are more likely to deal with sleep-related negative moods by self-medicating with alcohol.
-Mood. Less sleep has been found to be correlated with increased depressive symptoms, anxiety, irritability, feelings of hopelessness about the future and suicidal ideation.
What if the moodiness, constant battles and reckless behavior we typically associate with “normal” teenage angst could be lessened with a good night’s sleep? Wouldn’t that be great? Here are some tips parents can use to help their teenagers get more sleep:
-Be consistent with sleep schedules – even on the weekends!
-Screens off an hour before bed time.
-Watch the snacking.
-Simplify your teen’s after school schedule.
-Set a good example with your own sleep habits.
-Ask your teen, “What can I do to help keep you track?”
Teens are not likely to change their habits unless they recognize more sleep actually makes them feel better. Parents play an important role in encouraging commitment when it comes to their teen’s sleeping schedule.
Have a safe and sleep-filled spring break!
Kristi, Katie & Elizabeth