By guest writer Jane Evans
A growing number of Australian teens are seriously sleep deprived. Dr. Chris Seton, an adolescent sleep physician at the Sydney’s Westmead Children’s Hospital, told the Sydney Morning Herald that 7 in every 10 girls aged 14, get insufficient sleep, with 15% sleeping for only 5 hours a night. There are several reasons why young adolescents and teenagers are sleeping less these days, and one of them is spending too much time on their phones or computers. While some may think that this isn’t a serious problem at all, the reality is that lack of sleep not only affects the body but also one’s emotional and mental health. From having difficulty concentrating to depression, it’s clear that the repercussions of chronic sleep deprivation can be harmful to your teen’s health and behaviour.
It’s imperative that parents should help their teens to get adequate sleep for their overall well-being. Here are the main reasons why your teenager needs a good night’s sleep.
It can make them perform better in school
If you’ve ever gone to work after a sleepless night, then you have a general idea of how a chronically sleep-deprived teen will do in school. If your child’s grades have dropped, you may want to look into your teen’s sleep hygiene. A study has shown that students who slept 9 hours or more in a 24-hour period had significantly higher GPAs than those who sleep less than 6 hours every night. Getting adequate sleep can help to boost memory and focus, which are essential for any student. Ensure that your child has a reasonable bedtime and a comfortable yet supportive base to sleep on, which can result in better sleep.
It improves mood
Is your normally agreeable teen being somewhat moody or snarly nowadays? Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night may help to improve your child’s mood. Helping your teen to have a better mindset through adequate sleep can also benefit him or her in the long run as there is research that shows that some adults’ criminal behaviour may be caused by lack of sleep during their teen years. One way to help your child get enough sleep is to observe their caffeine intake. If they usually drink colas or caffeinated beverages at night, replace these with fresh juices or teas that don’t contain the stimulant.
It helps them make better choices
Having bad judgment or decisions has also been linked to lack of sleep. For your teen to make better choices in life, it is important that apart from being there for guidance, you also need to make sure that he or she is well rested in the morning. Remind your teen to have a hot bath or a hot shower in the evening, which can help to relax the mind and ease the body into restful sleep.
It keeps them safe
Lack of sleep can impair one’s reflexes, and having good reflexes is important especially if your teen is driving to school. Having enough sleep can prevent your teen from getting drowsy while behind the wheel and avoid getting into a car accident. Being well rested can help your child save lots of lives while on the road, including his or her own.
It keeps them at a healthy weight
Being chronically sleep deprived can make one prone to overeating. Scientists say that a lack of sleep can trigger a craving for sweet, salty, and fatty foods, and these foods can cause a host of health problems including weight gain. To help keep your teen at a healthy weight, encourage him or her to wear a sleep mask, which can help to block out any light and promote better sleep quality.
It improves their skin
Most teens often have to deal with skin problems such as acne and oily skin, and both have been linked to lack of sleep. Getting enough sleep can help to reduce acne and give teen skin a natural, healthy glow. Since using mobile phones and other gadgets have been linked to sleep deprivation, encourage your child to turn off the cell phone and not use it before bedtime. Doing so can help one to sleep better and improve the skin naturally without using chemicals or cosmetics.
It reduces stress
Most teens are already stressed as they have to cope with homework, afterschool activities, and their social life. This is why they need to rest as much as possible in order to be in the right frame of mind to deal with all of their day to day activities. Advise your child to go to bed at the same time every night to set his or her internal body clock and get better sleep.
If you think your child’s sleep hygiene needs improvement, talk to your teen about having a bedtime routine and give gentle reminders to help him or her stick to it. Sleep is important for your teenager’s overall health and well-being, so take the time to help your teen get a few more hours of sleep every night.