Sleep in Adolescents
What Can I Expect from my Teen?
ξ The average teenager needs about 9 hours of sleep per night.
ξ Most teens miss about 2 hours of needed sleep each night.
ξ After puberty, a child’s “inner clock” naturally shifts to about 2 hours later.
So, if your child used to wake at 7 and now sleeps until 9, he is following a
normal pattern for kids his age.
What Gets in the Way of Teenage Sleep?
ξ Early school start times conflict with teen’s natural sleep patterns.
ξ School and social activities make it hard for teenagers to get to bed early.
ξ Staying up late and sleeping in on weekends makes it harder to get back to an
early weekday schedule.
ξ More teens are using coffee, energy drinks and other caffeine products. Some
turn to prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall. Many of these
products can be addictive and dangerous. (They may also be illegal.) All of
them can cause sleep problems.
What are Some Signs that my Teen May not be Getting Enough Sleep?
ξ Moodiness: Not getting enough sleep is linked to depression.
ξ Behavior problems: Sleep deprived teens may be more likely to take risks
like using alcohol or driving too fast.
ξ Trouble thinking: Teens who don’t get enough sleep may have trouble paying
attention, remembering things, staying organized, and being creative.
ξ Trouble with school performance: Research shows that students who sleep
more get better grades than their peers who stay up late. Sleep deprived teens
are less efficient and often take longer to get their work done.
ξ Sleepy at the wheel: Teens, especially boys, have the highest risk of falling
asleep while driving. The most common times for accidents due to sleepy
driving are late at night and in the middle of the afternoon.
How Can I Help my Teen Get Enough Sleep?
ξ Set up a sleep schedule. Make sure your child goes to bed early enough to get
9 hours of sleep.
ξ Try not to let your teen sleep in too late on weekends.
ξ Make sleep a priority for your whole family. Help your teen manage her time
so he/she can get to bed.
ξ Turn off electronics: Internet, TV, cell phones and games too close to bed
time can cause sleep problems. Even low light from a computer screen may
interfere with your child’s inner clock.
ξ Keep your teen away from caffeine, alcohol, smoking and drugs. Make sure
he / she knows caffeine does not reverse the effects of alcohol or other drugs.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
ξ Your child has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
ξ Your child snores
ξ Your child has trouble staying awake during the day.
ξ You are worried your child’s sleep problems are affecting his life.
For more information on sleep in children, go to http://www.aap.org
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call
if you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with
your doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical
condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on
your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911.
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