Sleep Deprivation in Teens and School Struggles
June 15, 2016

Sleep deprivation in teens has serious consequences. Depression, stress, anxiety, heart disease, and much more has been linked to not getting enough shuteye. Sleep deprivation in teens has the power to disrupt every aspect of a teenager’s life–school, work, and at home. It can cause your teen to be irritable, have trouble focusing, and disrupt the entire learning process. The fact that it interrupts your child’s education should be reason enough to intervene and help your child get enough sleep.

It affects every part of life

According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 15 percent of teenagers report getting the minimum amount of sleep. Teens are supposed to get around 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. This means that more than 4 in 5 teens are walking around, going to school, and driving cars sleep deprived.

Sleep deprivation in teens has become a large issue in the United States. The effects of it in school has just begun to be studied. There’s this thing called “sleep debt” that’s especially troubling. If a teen only gets 7 hours of sleep during school days, by the end of the week they’ve piled up at least 5 hours of “sleep debt”–and that’s at the minimum required hours. Sometimes a teen has enough time to make up this debt, but oftentimes they don’t get rest on the weekends–because of friends, going out, etc.–and continue to be sleep deprived. Even if they have time for naps after school, it may do more harm than good; naps mess with their circadian rhythm (inner clock) and makes it even more difficult to fall asleep at the right time.

The are plenty of negative effects of sleep deprivation in teens. Not getting enough sleep can lead to dramatic issues like depression, but it also causes a teen to have difficulties focusing, learning information, staying alert, taking tests, paying attention, and more. Notice anything? Most of these have to do with what a student does in school. This means that sleep deprivation in teens directly impacts how students perform academically.

Combating sleep deprivation in teens

The best solution would be to start school later since teens naturally fall asleep at later times, but this is pretty inconvenient and probably won’t happen any time soon. As a parent, you can do a few things to help combat sleep deprivation in teens and make sure your child is getting enough sleep:

  1. No Caffeine or Sugar Before Bed. You may think this is common sense, but you’d be surprised. These things are known to keep people awake–so it’s good to avoid them 3 to 5 hours before bed. If your family often has dessert, it’d be good to substitute cake, for example, with cut up strawberries.
  2. Avoid Screens Around Bedtime. Screens emit this blue light that affects your inner clock, telling your body it’s not time to go to bed. Because of this, it’s good to avoid screens at least an hour before bed.
  3. Have a Routine Before Bed. Having a routine you perform before bed (ex. Reading a book or showering) helps your body identify when it’s time to go to bed. Suggesting that your teen do this is an easy way to help them get sleep.

If your teen is struggling with issues related to sleep deprivation in teens, such as depression, it’s important to seek out professional guidance.
For more information about sleep deprivation in teens and how to help your child, check out Asheville Academy for Girls.

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