Teen Sleep Disorders: How to Help Your Teen Sleep

Becca is a 16 year-old from West Palm Beach, FL. She loves to cook and travel, and she would like to study International Business in the future.

My name is Becca, and I have a fifteen-hour weekly sleep deficit. I, like most other teenagers, average six and a quarter hours of sleep on weekdays. A teenager should really get between nine and nine and a half hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, daily routine doesn’t usually agree with our biological clocks. Most teenagers’ wake-sleep cycle is set in a way that doesn’t allow them to get tired before 10 or 11 o’clock at night. If they have to get up at 6 or even 7 in the morning, they still aren’t getting nearly enough sleep. This lack of sleep is clearly harmful to each individual, but it can also pose a danger for society. Nearly 100,000 car accidents are caused by drowsy driving each year, and teens are responsible for half of these crashes. Parents oftentimes have a hard time understanding teens’ sleep cycle because their biological clocks are set in a way that makes them both go to sleep and wake up earlier. It’s important for them too remember that teenagers are simply programmed differently. Sleep deprivation doesn’t have an easy answer, but parents can help maximize the amount of sleep that their kids get by encouraging the following:

1. Establish a routine-

Irregular sleeping patterns can confuse the body. Sleeping into the afternoon on weekends can even trick the body into believing that it will get more sleep during the week, making your morning routines more unbearable than usual. The more constant you keep your bedtime, the easier it should be to wake up.

2. Drink less caffeine-

Scientists say that even one cup of coffee in the afternoon can be enough to keep you awake later than you want. Becoming caffeine dependent isn’t the healthiest way to wake up every morning either.

3. Have some down time before bed-

Down time shouldn’t consist of watching tv or playing video games, though. These activities can cause brain stimulation and make it harder to go to sleep. Instead, take a hot shower to help yourself wind down.

4. Pay attention to light-

First, don’t expose yourself to bright light before you go to sleep. This may confuse your body’s internal clock. Also, try to get out into sunlight as soon as you can to help yourself wake up easier in the morning.

5. Exercise-

Not only will exercise keep you healthy- it will also help you sleep better. Your body feels the need to recharge even more so after you perform physical activity. Try to get at least half an hour of exercise each day.

Any combination of school, work, electronics, and other variables may lead to a teenager’s sleep deprivation. However, a sufficient amount of sleep is necessary to succeed in all areas of life. If you try to decrease your sleep deficit, you should be a happier and more productive person overall.

6 Responses to “Teen Sleep Disorders: How to Help Your Teen Sleep”

  1. Judith
    March 3, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks for this article. I hope more parents will become aware that teens do need help with their sleep patterns.

    Also, I blogged today on Sleep Issues in Children, which I think you should see. It is important that families and teens understand the risks associated with untreated and undiagnosed sleep disorders. It is especially important to children as they grow up into maturity.

    Thanks for the article.

  2. Teri
    March 3, 2009 at 3:35 pm #

    my 15DD has had a sleep disorder all her childhood. She doesnt drink caffeine ever, She is ADHD and mood disorder, She reads before bed as down time and it keeps her up, excercise wakes her doesnt tire her at all. She does have a routine because she has school, medicine, and the animals on a schedule. She has been treated for her sleep Disorder but from time to time she still cant sleep. Stress is her biggest enemy or worrying. So some sleep issues can be bigger than a few changes. She couldnt sleep as a child and cant on her own now. But it is in control. We just go with the flow on this one at times.

  3. Vanessa
    March 3, 2009 at 7:00 pm #

    Judith and Teri

    Thanks for reading! This is a great article by Becca, and we are happy to have her. I know that sleep disorders and disordered sleeping is not discussed enough with teens and parents. Thank you for your insight.

    Judith feel free to send me the article via email (on my contact page) and I will take a look to possibly repost



  4. AASM
    March 4, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    Great points Becca. It’s important for parents to realize that there is a biological reason why their teen may prefer to stay up later at night. And as you point out, caffeine is a huge issue for teens, many of whom continue to drink caffeine-loaded sodas, coffee and “energy drinks” in the late afternoon and into the night. Parents should help their teens make sleep a top priority. One tip for parents is to set a “communication curfew” – a reasonable time after which your teen can no longer talk on the phone or send text messages, instant messages or e-mails. And keep the computer and TV out of your teen’s bedroom!

    American Academy of Sleep Medicine

  5. Cheryl Gowin
    August 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    With the onset of adolescence, a teen’s sleep cycle (circadian rhythms) shifts changes. The circadian rhythms are the body’s clock or internal indicator of when it’s time to sleep and wake up. This change in circadian rhythms typically means the teen goes to sleep later and will wake up later than younger children. Parents need to be aware of this change. http://www.discoverycounseling.org/sarasota.html


  1. Your Options To Treat Sleep Disorders - March 5, 2009

    […] Teen Sleep Disorders: How to Help Your Teen Sleep Becca is a 16 year-old from West Palm Beach, FL. She loves to cook and travel, and she would like to study International Business in the future. […]

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