Technology, other distractions and staying up late make is difficult, but researchers say teenagers need to make time for 8-10 hours of sleep a night to optimise their performance and maintain good health and wellbeing.
As soon as teens get less than nine hours sleep, attention deficits accumulate and jetlag-type behaviour starts to kick in – putting them at risk of poor performance at school and even personal injury through accidents, including car crashes if they drive.
Young people who do not get enough sleep can also find their sleep patterns worsen.
“Who cares? Well, most adolescents worldwide do not obtain sleep in the recommended range of 8 to 10 hours per night,” says Dr Michelle Short, who conducted a nine-night sleep study on 34 teenagers aged 15-17 at the Flinders Child and Adolescent Sleep Clinic.
“Adolescents require more sleep for optimal functioning than typically obtained.
“Our study of sleep deprivation in controlled conditions shows that this clearly affects the ability to function well as well as their mental health and sense of wellbeing.
“Feeling sleepy, poor cognitive performance and bad sleep patterns can also lead to elevated risk of injury or even death, particularly among learner drivers,” Dr Short warns.
After school holidays, and several months of sleeping in, Dr Short says it could take time to re-establish a good routine for the body clock to swing into a healthy sleep range for rising early for school, university or work.
“Our bodies and brains need the right amount of sleep, so we need to wind back the body clock into the Adelaide time zone,” she says.
Signs that your teen may have a problem with their sleep include if they:
- Are sleepy or fatigued during the day,
- need an alarm (or parent) to wake up on school days,
- fall asleep too quickly (<5mins) or too slowly (>30m), or
- find it very difficult to wake in the morning.
(Source: Flinders University, Sleep)