Sleep Patterns in Teens
Sleep helps with growth and psychological peace. This could help shed light on why little babies sleep so much. However, as one grows, the number of hours they sleep decrease. This is thanks to responsibilities, and in some cases, stress. However, doctors recommend at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep for the well-being of the mind and body. Contrary to popular belief, teens require more hours of sleep, averagely 9 – 10 hours. This is because body growth is at its prime during teenage years. Also, teenagers are involved in vigorous activities like sports for a significant part of the day (if they are not consumed by their “screens”). This leaves them fatigued by the end of the day. However, many teens have a different sleep pattern from the general population.
Many teenagers end up staying up late into the night. And most of them do this voluntarily when they are allowed to. We can blame it on a number of non-natural factors but medical practitioners have proved that the biological clock of teenagers changes slightly during puberty. That is why teenage boys and girls find it “lame” to sleep before the clock hits midnight. The ripple effect of this is that they tend to sleep longer in the morning. However, school won’t let them sleep past 7 am (for those lucky to even sleep up to that time).
Why sleep patterns change in teens
The biological reason
The circadian rhythm is the scientific term for the body’s biological clock. Hormonal changes during puberty trigger growth and maturity in teenage boys and girls. Among the hormones that experience a change in their normal release is melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for sending neural signals to the brain to alert the body that it is now time to sleep or time to wake up. Change in the normal production of melatonin leads to a delay of its production. Therefore, teenagers tend to feel sleepy about two hours after the adults, on average.
The non-Biological reason
Teenagers are the single most active age group when it comes to technology. It is normal to see teenagers always staring at the screens of their phones while interacting on social media, or staring at bright screens on the laptop or television when catching up on their favorite series. Production of Melatonin is largely dictated by the amount of light the brain receptors acknowledge. Staring at bright screens past 8 pm alters the normal production of melatonin as the brain receptors perceive that it may not be night time yet. This leads to lack of sleep for a while before body fatigue catches up.
How to deal with sleep patterns in teens
Parents need to understand that sleep patterns in teens cannot be changed at the snap of a finger. The classical “time to sleep” battle between a parent and a teenage child is only natural. However, there are steps that can be taken to ensure teenagers get sufficient sleep.
- Parental Involvement – Parents involved in their teenager’s life can control how much TV is being watched past 8 pm and can also regulate cell phone, tablet, and video game usage. This helps in stopping further delay of melatonin production.
- Hygiene – Taking showers at night has been proven to aid in sleeping better.
- Active involvement – Being actively involved in vigorous activities during the day should leave the teenager exhausted and ready for sleep when its time.
Dr. Eric Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D. Cert. Developmental and Behavioral Specialist and Associates
5458 Town Center Road, Suite 7, Boca Raton, FL 33486.