The Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep for Teens

If you’re like most teens, you were busy having fun all through the holidays, spending time with friends and family, going to movies, partying and staying out late. Now that school is starting back up, here is a New Year’s resolution for you: getting enough sleep!

Many students attempt to get by with just six hours of sleep on weekdays, thinking that they can catch up on lost sleep over the weekend. Unfortunately, this idea does more harm than good, because it upsets the body’s biological clock and affects the quality of your sleep.

Admittedly, biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence, meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm. However, you still need to get the right number of sleep hours. Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. If you are feeling cranky or headachy, having trouble concentrating, and find yourself dozing off in school or church, you are probably sleep-deprived.

The best way to maximize performance in school is to have a regular bedtime and get enough sleep every night. If you’re drowsy, it’s hard to look and feel your best. Sleep recharges your body and mind, increasing your energy level and improving your mood as well as your ability to think, solve problems, and make decisions.

When you do not get enough sleep, you are more likely to have an accident, injury, and/or illness. A lack of sleep depresses the immune system, making it easier to catch a cold or flu. Not getting enough sleep is also associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and depression.

Insufficient sleep can affect levels of hormones that control appetite, making kids hungrier and increasing cravings for sweet and salty snacks, said James Gangwisch, a psychiatry researcher at Columbia University in New York. When they don’t get enough sleep, otherwise healthy kids and adults lose their ability to regulate blood sugar — and the less sleep someone gets, the more likely they are to develop a problem.

Teens who are going to bed late or sleeping on an irregular schedule may also be skipping meals, eating at irregular times, or be less likely to exercise during the day because they’re simply too tired. Thus, getting enough sleep goes hand in hand with a healthy diet and a regular fitness routine.

Skipping sleep can be harmful — even deadly, if you are behind the wheel of a car. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents, and it can impair the human brain as much as alcohol can. A study by researchers in Australia showed that being awake for 18 hours produced an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .05, and .10 after 24 hours; .08 is considered legally drunk. Even if you’re not actually falling asleep at the wheel, being tired while driving makes your reaction times slower.

Computers, TVs, and mobile devices compound the problem, because when you normally would be tired enough to fall asleep, the moving images on the screens will hypnotize you into staying awake. Beyond keeping a regular bedtime, you should focus on what’s known as sleep hygiene, said Femke Rutters of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. This includes things like limiting screen time before bed, making sure the bedroom is totally dark at night, and maintaining healthy bedtime habits like brushing teeth. has published a comprehensive article packed with info about the importance of getting enough sleep, and the dangers of sleep deprivation. Be sure to check it out! Here is the link:

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  1. I believe my sleep behaviors are pretty healthy. I go to bed around the same time every night, fall asleep fast, and get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep. I’m usually not groggy in the mornings. But I need to stop staying up so late on the weekends. I keep staying up 2-3 hours later than I do during the week, and it makes me feel like garbage.

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