Sleep deprivation is a massive issue for many students and is having a profound effect on their physical and mental wellbeing. Students with a 24/7 addiction of being connected to their peers by having their phones on all night, makes deep and uninterrupted sleep impossible. Interestingly, studies have revealed that over 60% of adolescents are unhappy with and exhausted by this, don’t understand the consequences of a lack of sleep and rest, but continue to stay connected because of FOMO (fear of missing out). Also, the blue screen light from mobiles stimulates adrenaline release, further interfering with sleep hormones and sleeping patterns.
Teenagers need sleep to:
maintain a healthy body
keep their immune system working well
maintain good mental health
boost their energy levels, learning and concentration
store things in their long-term memory.
Lack of sleep can make it harder for your daughter to behave well, regulate emotions, pay attention and do well at school, and get along with others. Being tired all the time can even contribute to mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Most teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Some need as little as 7 hours or as much as 11 hours. Every child is an individual and their sleep needs will vary with age and growth patterns. It’s very common in the early teen years to start wanting to go to bed later at night and get up later in the morning. This is because they start to secrete melatonin later at night than they did in earlier childhood, which affects their circadian rhythms. Also, as their brains mature during puberty, your daughter can stay awake for longer.
What parents can do to help?
Good daytime habits are essential to help teenagers get the sleep they need, especially as they get towards the later teen years. These habits can also help your daughter avoid or sort out any sleep problems that come up.
Encourage your daughter to:
keep wake-up times on school days and weekends to within two hours of each other – this helps keep your daughter’s body clock regular
get out of bed when they wake up in the morning, rather than staying in bed
spend the hour before lights out doing relaxing activities like reading a book, listening to music or having a warm shower or bath
keep daytime naps to no more 20 minutes and make sure the nap is in the early afternoon.
Encourage your daughter to avoid the use of electronic devices in the hour before bed.
Ask your daughter to put electronic devices in family rooms overnight.
Check your daughter’s sleep space. A quiet, dimly lit space is important for good sleep.
Feeling hungry or too full can make it harder to get to sleep. Make sure your daughter has a satisfying evening meal at a reasonable time. Encourage your daughter to get as much natural light as possible during the day, especially in the morning. This will help the body produce melatonin at the right times in the sleep cycle. Encourage your daughter to avoid caffeine in energy drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks especially in the late afternoon and evening. Encourage your daughter to do some physical activity during the day, but not too late at night.
If your daughter has worries that keep them awake at night, try talking about the worries together during the day. Encourage your daughter to write down anxious thoughts each day well before bedtime. For each thought, your daughter could also propose a possible solution. Suggest your daughter tries some mindfulness/ gratitude exercises to calm an anxious or active mind before sleep.
Mr Ryan Cheers
Deputy Principal - Students