Do Teenagers Really Need More Sleep?

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Teenagers may not be getting the amount of sleep they really need to stay healthy and happy. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need 8 to 10 hours each night, but research suggests that very few teens are actually getting that amount on weeknights.

Early school start times, extracurriculars, spending time with friends, and homework commitments mean that American teens are generally staying up late and waking up early. Many sleep-deprived teens then sleep in on the weekends, throwing their sleep schedules further out of whack.

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So, why do teens need more sleep in the first place?

“Their national biological clocks keep them up later at night,” Dr. Holly Phillips told CBS News. “And then if you add computer screen time which is very stimulating, and all their homework and other things, they’re up too late and school starts too early and they’re working with a sleep deficit which ultimately affects their ability to learn.”

As for why teenagers’ biological clocks shift — experts believe that’s a totally normal change, related to puberty.

“Before puberty, your body makes you sleepy around 8:00 or 9:00 pm,” the UCLA Sleep Disorders Clinic website explains. “When puberty begins, this rhythm shifts a couple hours later. Now, your body tells you to go to sleep around 10:00 or 11:00 pm.”

Teens who are sleep-deprived may experience nasty consequences like mood swings, problems concentrating, and memory lapses. Plus, sleep-deprived teens are at a higher risk for getting in motor vehicle accidents caused by drowsy driving.

“[Sleep] certainly plays into learning and memory,” sleep researcher Mary Carskadon, Ph.D., said in a Stanford Medical News Center article. “It plays into appetite and metabolism and weight gain. It plays into mood and emotion, which are already heightened at that age. It also plays into risk behaviors — taking risks while driving, taking risks with substances, taking risks maybe with sexual activity. So the more we look…the more we’re learning about the core role that sleep plays.”

[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if you have questions related to your own health.]

Featured images: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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