Sleep Deprivation in Teenagers: Causes and Prevention

Topics: sleep deprivation

Teenage is the most crucial phase of our life. It is the formative period during which our brain and body experience significant development to ensure we meet our potential physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is why it is imperative that during these years, we get ample sleep. Experts believe teens must get eight to ten hours of rest every night. Catching on to the necessary sleep duration assists with healthy development.

Sleep Deprivation in Teenagers - Causes and Prevention

But, unfortunately, this is not what happens. Most adolescents only get 6.5 to 7.5 hours of sleep, while some get even less. This is not ideal, as not catching enough sleep leads to chronic sleep deprivation and affects teenagers’ lives in unexpected ways. For those interested in learning more about sleep deprivation in adolescents, here are its causes and prevention. Have a look!

Why is Sleep Crucial for Teenagers?

Although rest is vital for people of every age, in the case of teenagers acquiring eight to ten hours of sleep becomes more crucial since it assists with proper development.

1. Academic achievement

Sleep benefits the brain in several ways. It consolidates the information one acquires throughout the day and promotes analytical thinking. It also enhances memory and attention span to help you quickly grasp information. Moreover, being well-rested facilitates expansive thinking, responsible for spurring creativity. Since, during the teenage years, children are learning new skills, having a sharp, attentive, and analytical brain is significant.

2. Emotional health

Since sleep can affect mood, being rest-deprived causes irritability and outbursts. When this lack of sleep goes on for a long duration, the consequences can be significant, especially for teens learning independence, responsibility, and balance in relationships. Prolonged trouble with sleep can stunt emotional development and increase the risk of interpersonal conflicts in teenagers.

3. Physical development

Getting enough rest ensures the smooth functioning of every part of the body. It boosts the immune system, regulates hormones, and helps with muscle and tissue recovery. Since during the adolescent years, substantial physical growth happens, rest is necessary. Experts suggest that lack of sleep in teenagers can lead to a troubling metabolic profile. It puts them at an increased risk of developing diabetes and chronic cardiovascular problems.

4. Risky behaviour

Not acquiring enough sleep can negatively affect the development of the frontal lobe. Since it is critical to control impulsive behaviour, teenagers with chronic sleep deprivation are at an increased risk of engaging in impulsive acts like drunk driving, unsafe driving without a helmet, and not using a seatbelt. Experts have also identified behaviours like drug and alcohol use, risky sexual behaviour, indulging in unnecessary fights, and carrying weapons to be associated with little sleep.

5. Accidents and injuries

Not getting enough sleep over an extended period of time can slow reaction time in individuals. It can have a similar effect as alcohol consumption and lead to lousy driving. In teens, bad driving combined with a lack of driving experience can lead to a higher risk of accidents and injuries.

Cause of Teenage Sleep Deprivation

1. Delayed sleep schedule

During adolescence, teenagers have this tendency to be night owls. They stay up later in the evening and rest longer into the morning. If left to their devices, teens will probably sleep from midnight to 9 or 10 am. But, since the school timings force them to get up early, they fail to acquire eight to ten hours of rest.

2. Sleep problems:

In some teens, poor quality sleep results from rest problems. They may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a condition characterised by pauses in breathing, or Insomnia, where the person fails to fall or stay asleep. These problems can prevent quality sleep and lead to excessive daytime sleepiness. Besides these, another rest problem which may prevent children from sleeping is restless leg syndrome (RLS).

3. Time pressure

Teens have their plates full. They have to manage school assignments, social obligations, sports, and household chores in 24 hours. Oftentimes, they stay awake till late on weekends due to parties and on weekdays to complete homework. With so much to do, they fail to allocate the necessary time to sleep. All this pressure and extensive commitments lead to stress, which can contribute to insomnia.

4. Using electronic devices

Nowadays, most teens are obsessed with their phones and tablets. They use these devices late into the night, which is known to affect sleep. It is so because the blue light from mobiles affects the secretion of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.

Solution for Teenagers to get ride of Sleep Deprivation

Teens experiencing trouble resting at night should try the following remedies:

  • Try building good sleep hygiene. For this, habits like avoiding caffeine before bedtime, putting away electronic devices at least an hour before bed, maintaining an appropriate sleep environment, and trying relaxing techniques before falling asleep are encouraged.
  • If possible, avoid opting for early morning classes that require you to wake up in the wee hours of the morning.
  • Teenagers should try to manage their after-school commitments and make more time for rest and sleep.
  • Teens should communicate with their paediatricians and question how many hours of sleep adults need. They should discuss how much rest they are getting and how it impacts their daily life.
  • Teenagers should take a nap in the afternoon to recharge their batteries. Ensure these do not stretch for long hours, as it can affect your rest schedule.
  • Avoid staying up late on the weekends as it can disrupt your sleep schedule.
  • On weekends, teenagers should be allowed to sleep in to catch up on the missed hours of rest during weekdays.

To Sum Up:

Resting for 8-10 hours is essential for teens. Its absence can hinder emotional, physical, and mental well-being and affect overall growth. Thus, teens should talk to their paediatricians and sit with their parents to design an improved sleep plan.

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