07 Mar Teenager sleep patterns and ensuring sufficient shut eye
Everyone has difficulty sleeping at some point during their lives but it can be tricky when it comes to consistency in teenager sleep patterns.
For starters, teens are known for their late night gaming, chatting, binge watching or late morning rising – if at all at the weekend!
Let’s dispel the myth that teens can cope with less sleep now.
How much sleep does a teen need?
The truth is that teenagers need more sleep – eight to ten hours to be precise.
It is a proven fact that your sleep cycle shifts when you reach your teens and your body naturally wants to go to bed later. Normally this would be a problem because going to bed late and getting up early for school means 8-10 hours of sleep is pretty impossible.
Did you know that one in five teens fall asleep in class because they are not getting enough sleep? That’s not a good situation for your learning, possibly your rep, and it creates a bad impression in the teachers’ eyes!
With the usual routine of education (and work for some) gone out of the window, you could be forgiven for taking advantage of staying up all night and sleeping all day. This is a problem for some – maybe for you – but for others, it’s the stress of our current situation (this blog was written during winter 2021) impacting massively on achieving a decent night’s sleep.
The big challenge will arise when you have to get back into the previous routine. When you have to get up early again it’ll be a bit of a shock to the system because your body clock is out of sync.
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” Irish proverb
Recommended sleep for a teenager
As a teen or young adult (or young at heart) you are old enough to look after your own sleep habits and responsible enough to find your best sleeping pattern.
Some of you will naturally be early birds – early to bed and early to rise – or night owls – late to bed and late to rise. There’s no right or wrong way (even if your parents may disagree), but there is a right and a wrong for your body.
Let’s be clear about how important sleep is. I speak from experience because over the years I have massively underrated sleep and been guilty of pushing through tiredness. Even though my body used to scream at me to rest I was actually proud that I slept for just six hours or less!
Bottom line … it’s not sustainable long term. Lack of sleep impacts your mood, patience, health, productivity, communication and so on.
Now, I’ve learnt my lesson and enjoy a revitalising eight hours every night. I even squeeze another hour or two in at the weekend if I can because I love to wake up feeling alert and refreshed. I also hate dark circles under my eyes and feeling irritable or emotional because of sleep deprivation.
As a young person you have enough to contend with in the form of raging hormones, exam stress, peer pressure, career confusion, turbulent relationships and social media stresses. Eight to ten hours’ sleep will help you to tackle all of the above and in a healthy way! It’ll build your resilience so that you remain in control.
Let’s look at the facts…
The disadvantage of teens not having enough sleep
Lack of sleep will show in your moods and therefore your mental health.
Poor sleeping patterns will magnify the effects of changing hormones. Your body resets and repairs itself during sleep and rest helps to rejuvenate and build new habits. This period is vital for your body to develop and function physiologically and neurologically. If not, problems arise and you can become:
When sleep deprived you will struggle to think clearly and process information. You could even find it difficult to listen, learn and concentrate on anything, not just tricky subjects presented by teachers or at work.
“The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” E. Joseph Cossman
The health disadvantages of teens not having enough sleep
Sleep deficiency can make you prone to ugly pimples, weight gain and carb, sugary or fatty food cravings. The knock-on effect of these problems is a dip in self-confidence and self-worth. You’ll feel drowsy, have low energy and most likely, mood swings.
Insufficient sleep can also heighten the effects of caffeine, energy drinks and alcohol causing an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. More importantly, your immune system will be impacted because there isn’t sufficient time to heal. As a result, you will be prone to increased or prolonged illnesses such as coughs, colds, tummy troubles and migraines. Who wants to deal with that on top of schoolwork, exams and turbulent hormones?
The benefits of teens gaining sufficient sleep
I’m sure you already realise that you’ll feel ten times better and more in control of what happens in your life if you have sufficient sleep. You’ll also feel more confident in your own skin because you’ll benefit from:
- A healthier body weight
- Improved concentration
- Enhanced athletic performance
- Feeling less stressed, depressed and anxious
- Feeling positive and happier
- A reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke
- A stronger immune system
- Balanced hormones
- Clearer complexion
All of these improvements surely add up to a more confident, better functioning and better looking you?
Teenagers and sleep exercise
For the next ten days (or nights) make sleep a priority.
Keep a diary or journal to log your experiences and record what works and what doesn’t. Follow these seven simple steps:
- Turn your bedroom into a sleep haven – cool, quiet and dark
- Use an eye mask or hang black out curtains
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and eating at least one hour before bedtime
- Keep the journal by your bedside and empty your mind before you sleep by jotting down your thoughts
- Wake up to natural sunlight – honestly, it helps
- Be consistent to help form a natural rhythm
- Each morning, think about how well you slept and how you feel as soon as you wake – make notes in your journal and be curious about the reasons why you had a good or bad night’s sleep and the change in feelings
After the ten days you should have formed a good sleep pattern and spotted trends that impact the quality and quantity of sleep gained.
Habits to help you gain a better night’s sleep
Meditation is a wonderful aid to sleeping soundly because it helps you to relax and curb your mind chatter.
We have recently produced two meditation tracks specifically to help you sleep – one with and one without music:
Listen to a track every night as you carry out your sleep exercise and notice how much easier it is to drift off into dream world!
“Sleep is the best meditation.” Dalai Lama
Choose the life you want to lead
Sleep is such an important element in staying healthy in your mind, body and emotions. Please do share with our social community what has worked for you and ask questions if you’re struggling.
Connect using the links below or feel free to drop me an email if you need one-on-one support about anything that may be causing you to have irregular sleep patterns.
Until next week, take a deep breath, snuggle under the covers and work on getting your teenager sleep patterns in order ☺