Sleep helps to restore and repair the rapidly developing bodies of teenagers. Sleep helps the brain process information it has received during the day, making some memories stronger while fading away unwanted memories. Sleep also helps us regulate emotions. Sleep issues such as sleeping problems at night and poor sleep cause physical and emotional problems. Research has found that social isolation is a risk factor for depression and anxiety in teenagers and good sleep can protect them whereas sleep issues and sleeping problems at night can make them more vulnerable to these ill effects. In a time like the COVID-19 pandemic, where social distancing and isolation is the norm, it is important for teenagers to get good sleep.
How many hours of sleep do teenagers require?
The recommended number of hours of sleep that teenagers should get every night is 8 to 10 hours. However, many surveys, including a survey by the National Sleep Foundation in 2006, found that adolescents do not get the required amount of sleep and face sleep issues and sleeping problems at night.
Why do teenagers face sleep issues?
- During puberty, the shift in the timing of production of melatonin, leads to sleep onset by 10 or 11 pm instead of 8 or 9 pm as during childhood, leading to sleeping problems at night.
- The excessive time spent on electronic devices and the subsequent bright light exposure inhibits melatonin production leading to sleeping problems at night and shorter sleep duration.
- Teenagers don’t give enough importance to sleep and think that it is ‘cool’ to pull out all-nighters or go by as little sleep as they can. The habit of catching up on sleep on weekends, only adds to sleep issues and sleeping problems at night.
- Teenagers can also suffer from sleep issues such as Obstructive sleep apnea, narcolepsy, circadian rhythm sleep disorders that make it difficult to get good sleep.
What is the impact of poor sleep on teenagers?
Day time sleepiness can affect the concentration of teenagers during their regular classes. Lack of sleep can also induce unhealthy behaviors such as overeating and eating at wrong times during the day, resulting in weight gain, feeling of bloating, and sleeping problems at night. Lack of sleep can make teenagers more irritable and aggressive, causing the rash behavior we see amongst teenagers. Poor sleep due to sleep issues and sleeping problems at night has also been linked to an increase in the use of the substance, smoking, etc.
Solutions for sleep issues in teenagers
Parents should develop a better relationship with their teenage children, understand their sleep issues, and help them. Teenagers themselves should develop a good attitude towards sleep. Teenagers should also:
- Limit their screen time and not use electronic gadgets that emit bright light at least half an hour before sleep time to avoid sleeping problems at night. Also Read the 7 Best Food That You Can Have Before Going To Bed.
- Have a fixed bedtime and wake up time on weekdays as well as weekends.
- Avoid eating too close to bedtime, so that they don’t feel bloated, to reduce sleeping problems at night.
- Avoid drinking tea, coffee, chocolate drinks that contain caffeine after about 12 noon.
- Exercise regularly for about 60 minutes.
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