How Much Sleep Does Your Teenager Actually Need?

It’s another Wednesday morning, while you struggle to wake up, you suffer through it and manage to get into the shower, make breakfast and put the coffee on before everyone else wakes up. You look at the clock and realize there’s only 15 minutes before it’s time for the kids to go to school. Your seven-year-old is ready to go but you notice your teenage child’s light isn’t even on yet. You gently open the door and realize they still haven’t stirred from bed, even though their alarm is going off in a constant pattern. No matter how gently or forcefully you try to get them out of their latex mattress, nothing seems to work. Have you ever wondered how much sleep your teenager actually needs?

The Facts…

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need at least 9 1/4 hours of sleep per night. Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence — meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm. Most teens are not getting enough sleep, and one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights. Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week — they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep. Many teens suffer from treatable sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome or sleep apnea.

But Why Do They Need So Much Sleep?

One of the main reasons teenagers sleep so late and can’t wake up in the morning is due to their melatonin levels. The older a person is, the less melatonin they have in their system, which is why adults usually wake up earlier than children and teenagers. Teenagers have high levels of melatonin and on top of that, the hormone doesn’t release itself until around 1:00 a.m. for teenagers. Which means that most nights, teens don’t even start to feel tired until the wee hours of the morning. Think of it as an internal clock. Teenagers’ clocks are set to release melatonin much later but what happens is in the morning, when it’s time to get ready for school, the teenagers’ internal clocks still feel it is night time which is why they struggle so much to wake up everyday.

How to Fix the Problem

Let’s face it, no matter what you do, teenagers will be teenagers. But hopefully, you can make sleep a little easier to come by at home and hopefully make your and their mornings run a little bit smoother…

  • Make sleep a priority. Help your teenager decide what they need to change to get enough sleep to stay healthy, happy, and smart.
  • Naps can help pick up your teen and make them work more efficiently, if they are planned right. Naps that are too long or too close to bedtime can interfere with regular sleep, so be careful to keep them short and sweet.
  • Make your teen’s room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Let in bright light in the morning to signal their body it’s time to wake up.
  • No pills, vitamins or drinks can replace good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your teen’s sleep, so make sure they avoid coffee, tea, soda/pop and chocolate late in the day so they can get to sleep at night. Nicotine and alcohol will also interfere with their sleep.

Let us know about your tricks for getting your teenager up in the morning, best of luck!

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    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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