Teenagers Aren’t Getting Nearly Enough Sleep, Study Says

sleeping teenager
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While it’s a running gag that teenagers sleep too much, that might not be true. Many teenagers’ “sleepy” or “lazy” behaviors might be caused by a severe lack of sleep.

The results of the National Poll on Children’s Health, a survey run by Mott Children’s Hospital, showed that many teenagers find themselves staying up way too late. While the immediate assumption is that many of them are on electronic devices, a good portion of these teens’ parents say they are overwhelmed by school or stressed with their social lives.

The poll took from over 2,000 respondents, all of which were parents with teenage children. One in 6 of these parents say their child has sleep problems, and this statistic doesn’t include children whose parents don’t know about their insomnia.

While many adults can thrive on seven hours of sleep per night, an NPR study showed that teens need closer to nine hours each night. They’re in a stage of serious growth, both mentally and emotionally, and their brain needs more time to recover than an average adults. When you consider many teenagers’ school schedules, it’s no surprise they’re not getting enough sleep.

Many high schools begin classes early, and some students wake up as early as 5 a.m. in order to do homework, make breakfast, or walk to school.

sleeping teen
Many teens fall asleep studying, or skip sleep entirely to work on school projects. Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

A good portion of teenagers also stay up to do homework, especially students that are involved in after-school activities. If the teenager has outside responsibilities, they might be pressed to handle those before settling down to do their readings, which cuts into their bedtime.

While social media is a common source of lost sleep, many teenagers are failing sleep for different reasons. When asked what they could do to help, specialists responded to parents, saying that parents should stay vigilant. If it seems your child is struggling with their sleeping pattern, do what you can to help.

According to NPR, parents should encourage their children to take on less responsibility with extracurriculars, advise against staying up late, and discourage smartphone use before bed. If your teenager is losing sleep over a social matter, talk to them about it and try to alleviate their worries. Above all else, many specialists recommend being understanding with your children.

Many teenagers feel that their parents treat them too harshly, or don’t listen to them enough. While some of this can be blamed on adolescent angst, there is value in making your teenagers feel listened to.