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Teen sleep problems can be associated with their relationship to peers

18-08-2013

Teens and sleep are a somewhat touchy subject in most homes. As your kids grow older their attitudes towards sleep change drastically. When they are young trying to get them to go to sleep seems impossible, young kids want to stay awake as late as possible and many will make getting them to bed a never ending mission. Once they become teenagers not only will you still struggle getting them to bed on time, but you will also have the added problem of trying to get them out of bed. Many parents of teenagers dread the morning as they try to force their uncooperative teen from bed so that they can get to school on time.

Teenagers do actually require more sleep than adults, so while it may seem like they are being intentionally wilful, the reality is that teens need at least eight hours of sleep a night. They need the sleep to help with both their physical and mental development, a connection which can be seen in a recent study, which found that teen sleep problems can be associated with their relationships to peers.

The study found that increased sleep quality during both the weekdays and over weekends was associated with better relationships with peers and that increased variability in weekday, but not weekend sleep quality, was associated with decreased connectedness to the teen’s peers and as well as an increased sensitivity to peer rejection. In other words, teens who sleep well have better relationships with their friends than those that do not sleep well, with weekday sleep being the most important sleep period.

Most teens do not usually get the recommended amount of sleep needed for their age, and the majority of teens strongly value their social interactions with their peers. The study found that both of these processes are at odds among adolescents because poor sleep quality is associated with poor social functioning. If a teen wants to get on well with their peers they need to get the right amount of sleep throughout the week.

The study group was composed of 49 healthy adolescents who were aged between 9 and 17 years.  Over three consecutive weeks, their sleep quality was measured with a visual analogue scale each morning and was averaged separately for weekdays and weekends. Connectedness to peers was measured with subjective reports that were collected using an Ecological Momentary Assessment several times during the course of the day.

According to the researchers it seems probable that the relationship between adolescent sleep quality and social functioning is bidirectional. In other words, while poor social functioning will lead to poor sleep quality, poor sleep quality will also lead to poor social functioning.
Because adolescence is such an important period for the acquisition of social skills that are needed for the rest of their lives, this troublesome cycle could lead to problems with developing social relationships in the future.

Making sure that your teen gets enough sleep is important for the development of their social skills.
 


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