Does Your Teenager Get Enough Sleep? (POLL)
Here at TeamGEM, we love sleep. (Who doesn’t?) We don’t always get enough of it, but whether we need it for ourselves or we need to encourage it in our families we try to figure out ways to sleep more and better. To state the obvious, sleep is essential to good health.
About 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by 18 years old. Depression in teenagers doesn’t look the same as it does in adults. Teens may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative or grouchy, or feel misunderstood. Although you may think that that’s every teenager ever, it’s worth taking a look at factors that lead to teen depression.
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston tracked the habits of more than 4,000 adolescents over a year. They discovered that teenagers who don’t get enough sleep are four times as likely to develop major depressive disorders as their peers who sleep more. The findings were recently published in the journal Sleep.
Related: Back To School, Back To Sleep!
Teenagers should get 9-10 hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This seems laughable given factors like the hormonal disruptions of puberty, after school jobs, hours of homework every night, video games, Internet and smartphone use, and early school start times. On top of all that, the teen circadian rhythm makes them want to sleep late and wake up late. It’s no wonder that 70% of teenagers don’t get enough sleep.
If you’re the parent of teenagers, this information just gives you one more thing to worry about—as if you don’t already have enough worries. You may not have as much control as you once did with your teens’ sleep habits, but there are some things you can do.
Make sure you have a good relationship with your teen or cultivate a better one. Other research has found that teens who had very warm relationships with their parents—who said they felt supported and could talk to their parents—tended to sleep better. Families going through stressful times, like divorce or remarriage, tend to have teens with disrupted sleep.
There’s a growing movement to push back high school start times. Realizing that it doesn’t make sense to ask teens to be awake and alert when their alertness level is low, several school districts have successfully moved their start times to as late as 8:30. Find out what you can do at Start School Later.
If you’re serious about your kids getting enough sleep, set a bedtime and stick to it. Even if the bedtime is late to accommodate real life—like 11:30—it sends the message that you think sleep is important.
Related: Kids Questions: Sleepover Date
How much sleep does your teenager get each night? Is it affecting his/her performance or happiness? Take the poll and share your thoughts below.
Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is managing editor of Good Enough Mother. Read more about Alexis on her blog www.lilliebelle.org or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5. You can email her at alexis [at] goodenoughmother [dot] com.