Most teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep each night. But, many teenagers don’t get anywhere near that. Maybe your teen works hard and is up late doing homework. Maybe your teen has an after-school job that doesn’t let them off until late. Or maybe your teen just likes to stay up late browsing the web or engaging in hobbies.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to educate your teen on the importance of getting good sleep. Gina Labovitz, MD, FAAP, at Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics wants you to consider the following three questions to find out if your teen is getting enough sleep. If they’re not, read on to learn how you can encourage them to get more sleep.
1. How are your teen’s grades at school?
If your teenager used to have good grades, but their grades have suddenly slipped, they may be suffering from sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can lead to poor focus and concentration as well as decreased productivity and motivation. Your child may be too tired to complete their schoolwork or too tired to even muster the energy to start.
2. What’s your teen’s typical mood like?
Teenagers are known for being moody. But moodiness isn’t automatically a teen thing. If your teenager seems to suddenly be irritable, angry, sad, or angsty, ask them about their sleep habits. Other mood-related signs to look out for include isolation, argumentativeness, and denial.
If your teenager has always been sort of moody and you can’t tell if sleep deprivation has made things worse, see if your teen has stopped:
- Going to sports practice or work
- Visiting friends
- Doing chores
- Doing normal things, such as eat dinner with the family
3. Does your teen usually stay out of trouble?
Sleep deprivation is associated with poor decision-making. So if your teen has been making regrettable choices lately, consider that sleep deprivation might be a factor. Don’t just simply blame it on the fact that they’re a teenager.
Encouraging your teen to get more sleep
Education is the most important thing when it comes to getting adequate sleep. If your teen doesn’t understand the importance of getting enough sleep, they may not care how much they get. Educate your teenager on the benefits of sleep and the consequences of sleep deprivation.
Sleep can help your teen:
- Manage their weight
- Stay healthy
- Have less stress
- Improve their memory
Not getting enough sleep can:
- Age their skin faster
- Make them foggy
- Lead to accidents
- Lead to health problems
In some cases, you might need to take disciplinary action with your teenager. If your teen tends to stay up late with electronics, take away their electronics at night. Or, for a time, enforce a rule of no sleepovers ― at home or away ― on weeknights, and set a curfew.
On the flip side, offer rewards for sticking to a sleep schedule. Perhaps cook your teen’s favorite breakfast. Or schedule a fun family outing if your teen gets in bed at 9 p.m. for five consecutive days.
If sleeplessness and symptoms, such as moodiness, depression, or isolation persist, consider seeing a doctor about your teen’s habits and moods. To learn more about sleep deprivation in teens, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Labovitz at Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics.