Teen Sleep Deprivation Affects Health

sleeping teenager

Many American teens are struggling with sleep deprivation. Only 20 percent of teens get the recommended nine hours of sleep on school nights, and one in four is drowsy or falls asleep in class, reports the National Sleep Foundation.

Sleep deprivation has negative effects on teens:

  • Insufficient sleep may cause difficulties in school, including disciplinary problems, sleeping in class or poor concentration
  • Students reporting grades of C’s, D’s or F’s had 25 minutes less sleep and went to bed about 40 minutes later than those who report grades of A’s and B’s
  • Teens are at the wheel of more than 50 percent of the 100,000 traffic accidents each year resulting from drowsiness or fatigue, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Most teen’s circadian rhythm adjusts as hormones change, making it difficult to fall asleep until 10 p.m. or later
  • Lack of sleep may contribute to acne and other skin problems; lead to aggressive or inappropriate behavior; cause teens to eat too much – especially unhealthy foods; result in higher incidences of illness; heighten the effects of alcohol; and lead to increased use of caffeine and nicotine

Tips to Avoid Sleep Deprivation

Studies show that teens often sacrifice their sleep for a variety of reasons, including studies, jobs, socializing, or TV programs. Consider these ideas to curb sleep problems:

  • Limit drinks with caffeine in the evening
  • Turn off the TV and cell phone; avoid digital or video games at bedtime
  • Some music may create a soothing environment and enhance sleep; keep the volume low
  • Adjust bedroom lighting – as bedtime approaches, dim the lights; turn off lights during sleep; expose teens to bright light in the morning
  • Stick to a schedule for bedtime and morning wake-up times – even on the weekend
  • Prioritize extracurricular activities; curb late-night social events
  • Avoid naps longer than 30 minutes

If you have a teenager, or know someone who does, is sleep deprivation a concern? What steps have been taken to help the teen get more sleep? – Scott Delisi, Ameritas Group