How Much Sleep Do Teenagers Need for Good School Performance?

How Much Sleep Do Teenagers Need for Good School Performance?

If your teen wants to stay up all night and sleep all day, don’t blame them -- blame biology. The body’s circadian rhythm, its natural internal clock, begins to change as individuals enter into the teen years. The hormone melatonin, which helps people to feel sleepy, starts being released later at night as they mature. This makes it harder for teens to get to sleep at an early hour -- and harder to get up on time for school!

Other demands in a teenager’s life, such as academic stress, extracurricular activities, and the pressure to fit in socially can also affect their ability to fall asleep. 

Teen with book on face

The Importance of Teen Sleep

Everybody needs a good night’s rest, but sleep for teenagers is crucial. Their bodies and brains are developing rapidly. They actually need more sleep than they did when they were younger.

In fact, Johns Hopkins pediatrician Michael Crocetti, M.D., M.P.H. reports that teens need at least 9 hours every night -- and more is better!

Failure to get enough sleep has real and noticeable consequences. The effect of sleep deprivation for teenagers include:

Difficulty focusing in class
Shorter attention span
Poor decision-making abilities
Depression, moodiness, and aggression
Risk-taking behavior
Reduced academic and sporting performance
Increased likelihood of injury due to clumsiness
Increased sick days and truancy

    A lack of sleep creates a vicious circle for teens that impacts their mental wellbeing, school performance, self-esteem, and social life.

    What Can a Parent Do?

    There are several steps that a parent can take to help their teen get the rest they need. Work with your teens to create a tranquil bedroom space that includes a comfortable mattress and a bed that’s set up for sleep, not for charging and storing electronic devices.

    Alarm clock old-fashioned

    Other suggestions include:

    - Help your teen to trim down activities if they are overcommitted
    - Avoid early morning obligations such as appointments, training, or extra classes if possible
    - Work with your teen to establish a reasonable cut-off time for screen use in the evening
    - Let your teen sleep in on the weekends
    - Tie good sleep habits to car privileges, as sleep-deprived people are not safe drivers
    - Encourage your child to get to bed early on Sunday night to set them up for success during the school week

      Consider that your child’s need for supportive sleep products will change as they grow into adulthood. For this reason, a bed and/or mattress upgrade may be in order. 

      Teen girl with phone in bed

      What Can a Teen Do?

      Developing good sleep habits will serve your teen as they grow into full adulthood.
      Share these tips to help empower their decision-making around sleep: 
      - Start the day in sunlight by taking breakfast outdoors or by a sunny window to help regulate internal clocks
      - Be responsible with technology, shutting down all screens at least one hour before bedtime
      Keep your bedroom dark at night—no TV or lights left on
      Get physical activity during the day to help the body feel more tired at night
      Wake up at the same time each school day, no matter how tired you feel
      Avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks in the evening

        Understanding that your child’s new sleep habits are partly out of their control will help to provide some insight on -- and some solutions for -- your sleepy teenager.