Teenagers may be the most sleep deprived age group in the world. Just at the time that their school and social lives are expanding, their bodies suddenly increase their sleep requirement. In fact, according to the latest scientific research, teens require more sleep than their younger prepubescent siblings – an average of 9.25 hours of sleep daily. But just try telling your rebellious teen to give up that Friday night party in favor of an extra few hours of sleep. Early school start times, extra homework, jobs, social activities and their own body chemistry makes it difficult for teens to get all the sleep they need. In fact, the average teen gets only six hours of sleep a night instead of the 9.25 their bodies really need.
The chronic sleep deprivation affects all aspects of a teen’s life. The effects include lethargy, drowsiness, difficulty in concentrating and thinking critically, difficulty in learning and remembering things and moodiness. Parents can help their teens get restful quality sleep by encouraging the following behaviors:
– Encourage physical exercise during the day – but not close to bedtime.
– Give your teens a place to do homework during the day so that the bedroom isn’t associated with the stress of studying.
– Limit caffeinated beverages after 2 pm.
– Promote later school start times and encourage short after school naps.
– If your teen does nap after school, wake them after twenty to thirty minutes. Any longer than that will make it difficult for them to fall asleep at night.
– Serve dinner four to five hours before bedtime, and offer a later snack that’s high in protein and low in fat to prevent hunger from waking them during the night.
Finally, take as much care in choosing a mattress for your teen as you do for yourself. Remember that most teens are fully adult size, and their bodies need support in all the same places as an older body. Sleeping on a proper mattress will help your teen make the most of the little sleep that he or she does get.