How Letting Teens Sleep in Could Save Their Lives
It’s a common summertime scene – shouting at sleeping teenagers to wake up as the morning fades into afternoon. Teenagers are notorious for sleeping late on mornings when they don’t have to be up for school. Many parents urge their teenagers to wake up at a decent hour, and blame late nights for their need to sleep late. Studies show that teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep to function well – otherwise, their lives could be at risk.
How Much Sleep is Enough Sleep?
The average teenager needs eight and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep each night to function best, compared to adults, who only need seven hours. However, most teenagers get significantly less sleep than this, due to late nights and early mornings getting to school on time. Many schools begin class at 8 a.m. or sooner, leaving no leeway for sleep-deprived teens. When teenagers don’t get at least eight hours of sleep, they are prone to dangerous behaviors and bad decision-making.
Dangers of Lack of Sleep in Teenagers
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that sleep-deprived teenagers were more likely to engage in behaviors such as texting and driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, and failing to wear a seatbelt. They were also more likely to express feelings of depression, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts. Teens who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to alcohol and marijuana use, as well as smoking cigarettes and engaging in sexual activities.
The scientifically proven connection of lack of sleep in teens and obesity, depression, and car accidents upsets many parents who previously did not realize the dangers of sleep deprivation. When school starts at 7:30 a.m. and you have a 30-minute commute and need 30 minutes to get ready and eat breakfast, you have to wake up at 6:30 at the latest. To achieve the recommended 9.25 hours of sleep, a teen would have to be asleep by 9:15 p.m. – a time that is simply not realistic for today’s teenagers.
The solution may be to change the start times in schools. Opponents of this plan argue that teenagers would just go to bed later since they don’t to be awake as early, creating the same problem. Parents and teachers are also concerned that the later ending times would cut into students’ social and school activities.
What You Can Do as a Parent
No parent wants to see a child be prone to reckless, dangerous behaviors due to lack of sleep. The right amount off sleep might prevent driving drowsy, drunk driving, and engaging in risky behaviors. If you want to ensure your teenager gets enough sleep to function well during the day, you can take steps to help him or her establish a healthy sleeping schedule.
Limit the use of technology before bed, as staring at screens before sleep can result in restless, incomplete sleep and a more tired teen. Get your teenagers involved in sports; physical activity makes it easier for a body to transition into sleep. Set a good example by getting enough sleep yourself. Don’t brag about how little sleep you can function on or talk about the virtues of energy drinks during long nights. Teenagers will follow your lead.
If your child is involved in a reckless driving accident, DUI accident, or other motor vehicle accident, get in touch with Liljegren Law Group for legal advice. We’ve practiced personal injury law in San Diego for years, and we know how to win compensation quickly and efficiently for our clients. Contact us today for a free case evaluation concerning your teen.