Why Do Teens Sleep So Late?
It is no news to parents that teens tend to sleep in later than the rest of us. We all know they often stay up later and they are hard to wake up in time for that 7:45 a.m. class. Now, this is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They published their recommendation that schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.
Problems With Sleep Deprivation
Teens tend to have their circadian rhythms shifted later than the rest of us. They naturally are prone to being awake later in the night. Add to that the artificial light from electronics, which triggers their brains to want to stay awake, and you are left with a sleep-deprived kid in the morning. So, it’s no wonder it’s hard to drag them into school on time.
Sleep deprivation can result in many problems:
- Problems learning and poor academic performance
- Attention and memory problems
- Poor impulse control
- High blood pressure
- Increased car accidents
How Much Sleep do Teens Need?
Another issue is that many kids are in denial as to how many hours of sleep they require. Most of the teens I talk to are barely getting 6-7 hours when their bodies actually need closer to 8.5-9.5 hours per night! They tell their parents they are going to bed, but they may not go to sleep immediately, due to texting/messaging friends, etc.
Tips to Improve Your Night Routine
I don’t know if the local schools will push the start times later in the day, but here are some tips that may help you get your kid into a good sleep routine:
- Try to avoid electronics for the hour before bedtime.
- Limit caffeine (this means pop, tea, coffee, energy drinks, etc.).
- Stick to the same bedtime and wake time every day of the week. Make sure it is early enough in the evening to allow 8-9 hours a night.
- Avoid long, late afternoon naps (if you need a nap, limit it to 20-30 minutes and keep it earlier in the day).
- Keep your bed or bedroom area for only sleeping. Do not use your bed to study, do homework, or hang out. In doing this, we train our brains to sleep in our bed- not hangout.
If you feel your child is having problems getting enough sleep regardless of taking the above actions, check with their pediatrician.
Original post date: Sept., 2014. Revised: June, 2022.
Laura Denning is a certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at CHI Health West Broadway Clinic. To schedule an appointment with Laura, please visit her provider profile.