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Sleep Deprivation in Teens: The Next Mental Health Crisis

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of high school students don’t get enough sleep. Based on these worrying statistics, it seems sleep deprivation in teens has become a serious issue. Due to the ever-growing burden of school projects coupled with excessive screen time, today’s teens often sacrifice precious hours of shuteye.

A recent article published by highlights the importance of quality sleep, especially during adolescence. Experts agree that 8-9 hours of sleep have a positive effect on your growing child’s mental health. But despite being familiar with this golden rule, most parents fail to apply it.  So, what happens when teens don’t get enough sleep?

sleep deprivation in teens
The Consequences of Sleep Deprivation in Teens

Over the years, experts have repeatedly shown that poor sleep quality can have profoundly adverse effects on adolescents’ mental and physical health. According to recent studies, sleep deprivation in teens affects information processing and leads to low self-control.   

Furthermore, James B. Maas, psychologist at Cornell University believes today’s American teenagers are “walking zombies.” They are the result of heavy homework loads, caffeine consumption, and tons of extracurricular activities. How can we help our teens – and ourselves – get that much-needed rest?

3 Tips on How to Sleep Better

“Sleep is the best medicine.” – Dalai Lama

Keep a tight sleep schedule

The first step in curbing sleep deprivation in teens is helping them keep a tight sleep schedule. That means waking up at the same time every day; weekends included.

Furthermore, Matt Walker (head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California–Berkeley) believes that “The time of night when you sleep makes a significant difference in terms of the structure and quality of your sleep.” In other words, make sure your teen goes to bed at around 10-11 PM.

Develop healthy habits

What our teenagers do throughout the day can have a significant impact on how they sleep at night. Activities such as moderate-intensity workouts and yoga help them fall asleep easier and achieve that much-needed rest. Lastly, avoiding screen time one hour before bed helps the brain switch to sleep mode.

Take a nap

Naps are an excellent way to recharge our batteries during a busy day. A one-hour nap after lunch can restore your teen’s energy levels and help him/her stay awake and productive throughout the day. Many cultures work at least one nap into their schedules each day–it improves functioning and mood.