Boy, do we know all about teenagers and their sleep problems. When you want them to go to bed they won’t, when you need them to get up... they won’t! Teenagers are difficult at the best of times and they are impossible around sleep. However, it is not all their fault. In fact, the more we discover about teenagers and sleep, the more we have come to realise that the teenage years are just as difficult in sleep as they are in everything else.
Half of all teens are sleep deprived.
Recent research has found that more than half of all teenagers may be sleep deprived. The recent research has shown that teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep each night in order to function properly, and the reality is that most teenagers simply don’t get that much every or even any night. Sure they sleep in but teens are going to bed later and later. Something that smart phones and other portable computing devices have not helped.
What seems to be the problem?
The cause of the sleep deprivation seems to be the rising use of portable computing devices, such as smartphones, iPads, laptops etc. These devices have quickly gone from being a luxury to a necessity, everyone has one and they use them all the time. The research shows that almost every teen has one of these devices and that they use them in bed. Because of the distraction and the interference with their body clock because of the backlit screen the result is that many teenagers are not getting enough sleep.
It’s not all smart phones.
While it is easy to blame smart phones and other portable devices there are other important such as hormonal changes can and do play a major factor in teen’s sleep patterns. Much of the research indicates that teenagers will naturally move toward increasingly later bedtimes and correspondingly longer sleep ins as they grow older, possibly because of the hormonal changes that occur during puberty.
The problem combined.
So while teens naturally become more inclined to stay up later at night, the revolution in portable electronics (and video games) has meant that they now have something extremely distracting that enables and encourages this natural behaviour. In other words, the two issues combined are creating this growing problem.
We need to educate them and us.
As the researchers point out , one of the big issues is that while sleep is a fundamental part of our lives most people do not know much about it. With the right sleep education we could enhance enormously the quality of life and the educational performance of teenagers. As it stands though, they are given no instruction about the importance of sleep and in the end, sleep becomes sacrificed to the other demands that are being made of them.
If the teens and their parents knew how important sleep was and understood how much the teens needed then this would go a long way to changing their sleep behaviours.
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