The Effects of Sleep Deprivation in Teens
This is a guest post by Sarah Cummings.
Teenagers are known for their moodiness, getting in relentless tit-for-tat spats with their parents, and sleeping all day long. But this might not be how teenagers are supposed to behave after all. And there is a solution to it all: sleep.
Having been through the teenage years, we’ve all experienced the drastic changes during adolescence, involving significant changes in hormones and brain development.
There are consequences for regular sleep deprivation, not just physically, but also mentally and behaviorally. Studies highlight the fact that a staggering 60%- 70% of teens in the US live with borderline to severe sleep debt!
A lack of sleep causes a constant cloudy-minded state. This can negatively affect a teenager’s mood, the capacity to think and react, control emotions, learn, and also get along with others – including their parents.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation
Sleep and mood
Teens’ moods are usually the first thing that is affected by lack of sleep or poor quality sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation states that teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep per night. And kids who get that much sleep reported better moods. Other studies have linked lack of sleep and depression in teens.
Increased risk of injuries
Research has revealed that fatigue or drowsiness is the chief cause of at least 100,000 traffic accidents annually.
If your child is driving, talk to them about the dangers of driving while tired. If they are sleepy, they shouldn’t get behind the wheel because it can have the same implications as drinking alcohol.
This is just one example of the increased risk of injury when sleep is deprived in teens.
Inability to self-regulate
Lack of self-control is another factor for teens who don’t get enough high-quality sleep. Think of self-control like a muscle. If a lot of energy and effort are expended, you need to rest to restore the capacity to self-regulate.
What Parents Can Do About Sleep Deprivation
These are just some of the key issues of sleep deprivation in teens, and we’ve put together some of the best ways to overcome these as well as lots of other issues related to poor sleep in teenagers.
Create a bedroom with a sanctuary-like environment
Ensure that all tech, including smartphones, TVs, and tablets are turned off and left out of the bedroom at least two hours before bedtime.
This also includes iPods and other MP3 players too, because they’re likely to not be listening to sleep-inducing music; they’re probably listening to stimulating music that will prevent them from drifting off.
Shower or bath before bedtime
Showers and baths are a nice option to help them relax before they head off to bed. A quick bath or shower will help the brain recognize it’s time to shut down and ready itself for the Land of Nod.
Shut out the light
A slice of advice that most teens won’t have a problem with is advising them to keep their door shut when they go to bed at night. They should also neutralize any natural and artificial light that enters the bedroom too.
Think about installing blackout blinds or curtains to help with this. If that isn’t possible, encourage using an eye mask instead.
Leave time to wind down
Meditation through simple breathing exercises can go a long way to helping stressed-out teens glide into a sound sleep at bedtime.
There’s nothing more frustrating than heading to bed with your mind racing, so imagine how tricky it is for a teenager who has lots of other things like hormonal changes to deal with!
If your teen enjoys a caffeinated drink, whether it’s a tea coffee or the even poorer health-risk in a can – the energy drink – they should drink them no later than 2 pm.
Caffeine is found in more than just drinks, though. Your teen needs to start monitoring their caffeine intake throughout the day. If they want something before bed, a soothing and sleep-inducing chamomile or passionflower tea will be much more conducive to sleep.
Sarah Cummings has a love of exercise and takes a keen interest in the correlation between physical activity and sleep. She’s been involved in writing informative and helpful guides for the more than five years now after originally seeking to help others achieve healthier lifestyles.